Abigail Fleiner (left) and Antonia Malate share the lead
with Elizabeth Scholtes (not pictured) at 71
96 masked golfers teed off at Corica Park today, to play the first round of the Winter Invitational. For the early starters, those masks kept them warm as temps in the low 40s at 7:15am yielded to sunny skies and very playable temps in the high 50s later in the day.
As usual, the greens were perfect, and despite some tricky hole locations the course gave up plenty of birdies (and the occasional eagle).
Let's start with the women, represented by eight capable ladies who played a challenging but fair course (the regular men's white tees). Three of them broke par -- the trio of Abigail Fleiner (Reno), Antonia Malate (Seaside), and Elizabeth Scholtes (the local favorite from Alameda).
Malate, who plays for San Jose State, was very steady all day.
"Just watching her made me play better," said Fleiner, who competes for Northern Colorado.
Indeed, Malate recorded three front nine birdies on the way to a 2-under 34. Fleiner responded with back-to-back birdies on Nos. 10 and 11, and posted 35 on her back nine.
Scholtes, who plays for Cal Poly, will be paired with the other two leaders on Sunday for the final round. After a bogey on No. 10 to start the back nine, she played 2-under the rest of the way, without another bogey.
The championship division, with 60 players, had more than a dozen under par rounds, playing the back tees. With fast and firm fairways, no par five is unreachable in two shots for some of these young (and old) guns, but they made plenty of noise on the rest of the course as well.
Josh McCarthy (the Pepperdine standout from Danville) and Brett Thawley (Pebble Beach) both posted 6-under 66 to lead the championship division.
Thawley opened with back-to-back birdies, then did it again on Nos. 7 and 8 to post 32 on the front nine. After a birdie on No.10, Thawley briefly got off track with bogeys at Nos. 11 and 12, but got right on board the birdie train going home with three more, including a final red number on 18.
McCarthy was steady all day, making seven birdies and not giving back anything to old man par until a lone bogey at the last, where he missed his come-backer after nearly draining a 12 foot birdie for 64.
The easy-going McCarthy took it in stride when asked about the short lip out on No. 18.
"I just hit a bad putt," he said. "But I made my share today."
The duo tied at the top is trailed closely by St. Mary's golfer Ethan Ashbrook, who fired 67.
Easily within striking distance are San Jose State golfer Sean Yu and 16-year-old Leonardo Vieira (who plays out of Corica Park). Both players shot 3-under 69.
Frank Pieper of Carmel leads the senior division after an even par round of 72 while Tom Natividad posted net 77 to pace net players.
ABOUT THE AGC Winter Invitational
The Winter Invitational is now open to all
players who satisfy the handicap
Join us at the completely renovated Corica Park
Course in one of three fields: scratch, senior
scratch, and net.
Players age 25 and over compete in the
Championship Division, (same tees, same prize
and if there are at least 10 Mid-Ams, a
prize will be awarded.
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