Trent Whitekiller, Wesley Graham share lead
Tallahassee, Fla. – In a field filled with battle-tested veterans, a pair of relative newcomers to the NGA Tour made their presence known in the first round of the Killearn Country Club Classic on Thursday.
The tour heads to Savannah Lakes Village April 29-May 5 for the SLV Classic.
NGA rookies Wesley Graham and Trent Whitekiller opened with $200,000 event with 7-under 65s and held a share of the lead in the clubhouse when play was suspended because of darkness at 6:30 p.m. during the first round.
Whitekiller, a former All-American at Oklahoma State University from Sallisaw, Okla., played the 6,988-yard course without a bogey in the first round and rattled in seven birdies to earn a share of the clubhouse lead in his second NGA Tour start.
“It was just one of those days,” said Whitekiller, a former teammate of PGA Tour star Rickie Fowler at OSU. “I only missed two greens and those were on the fringe. It was a stress-free round, and that doesn’t happen too often.”
Graham, a former Florida State University standout from Port Orange, overcame a stressful start to join Whitekiller atop the leaderboard late in the day. After bogeying the second hole, Graham rallied back with eight birdies to close the round. Graham is making just his fifth NGA Tour Pro Series start.
Longwood’s Sam Ryder and Lake City’s Blayne Barber made it four rookies pacing the field. In his sixth Pro Series start, Ryder, a former Stetson University golfer, posted seven birdies and one bogey in the opening round, while Barber, a former Auburn All-American, had four birdies and an eagle on Thursday. Barber, who finished tied for 42nd last week in the PGA Tour’s Northern Trust Open, and Ryder are tied for third with NGA Tour veterans James Vargas and Marc-Etienne Bussieres.
Vargas, a former University of Florida golfer from Miami, had six birdies, two bogeys and an eagle in the first round and Bussieres, a former University South Alabama golfer from Quebec, carded eight birdies and two bogeys in the opening round.
Lakeland’s Danny Evelyn posted seven birdies and two bogeys during Thursday’s first round en route to a 5-under 67. Evelyn, a former Florida Southern golfer, is tied for seventh with Max Gilbert (St. George, Quebec), Clayton Rask (Otsego, Minn.) and T.J. Bordeaux (Tacoma, Wash.).
Joseph Kinney, Daniel Mazziotta, Justin Hueber, Jason Millard, Ken Looper, Chris Erwin, Andrew Landry, Rich Cochran, Seth Fair, Ryan Brehm, Jesse Hutchins and FSU alum Kyle Cobb opened with 4-under 68s and were tied for 10th when play was halted.
The players unable to complete the first round restarted at 8 a.m. on Friday.