Cal Poly alumnus and defending champion Loren Roberts and his partner from last year’s Straight Down Fall Classic, Mike Rowley, are in position to repeat.
After day one of the two-day event, a two-man best ball tournament, Roberts and Rowley are in a four-way tie for second after shooting a 7-under 64 with seven birdies and no bogeys.
Jim Miller and Todd Mitchell lead after a first round 63.
Roberts plays on the Champions Tour and is best known nationally for finishing in second place at the 1994 U.S. Open to Ernie Els after an 18-hole playoff and two sudden-death holes when he played on the PGA Tour. He enjoys homecourse advantage, as the San Luis Obispo native was an assistant golf pro for 41⁄2 years at the San Luis Obispo Country Club before joining the PGA Tour.
Rowley is no stranger to the course either, as he is a member of the club, and it showed Saturday. The pair was able to take advantage of the ideal weather, with partly cloudy skies and almost no wind.
“We were never in danger of getting a bogey today,” Roberts said. “The greens were slower than usual following yesterday’s rain and allowed us to play more aggressively on the greens. Whenever I had a tough hole, Mike was right there to pick me up. We hammed-and-egged out there.”
Also tied for first in the 62-pair tournament were Rick Leibovich of Tehama Golf Club and his partner Geoff Couch, Champions Tour member Tom Pernice Jr. and his partner Ed Cuff, and Mark Madson of Lakeside Golf Course and partner Dan Pouliot.
Another veteran professional golfer with extensive San Luis Obispo Country Club experience is former Paso Robles High and Cal Poly golfer Travis Bertoni, who plays on the Nationwide Tour. Bertoni still lives in the San Luis Obispo area and plays the course four times a week. As a result, Bertoni and partner Marshall Williams finished the first round in a tie for eighth place at 5 under. Bertoni and Williams played a bogey-free round to stay in contention in the tightly packed tournament. Fourteen of the 62 pairs are within two strokes of first.
“I’ve played here more times than I can count; I’ve played here in high school and college and still today because it’s a great course,” Bertoni said. “This is a great, fun event because there are a lot of local pros that come back for it. Straight Down is a great company and it’s nice to play well, but you are going to have a good time either way.”
The course is going to be changed to a par 72 today, as Hole 9 is being changed from a par 3 to 4. Also, the golfers pointed out they have to play more conservatively today because the normally fast Country Club greens were tamed by rain Friday and clear skies Saturday day. However, a clear night will dry out the greens, making rolls harder to control as faster greens tend to spit balls off the greens back onto the fairway or in a bunker.
The tournament will be decided today as the pairs tee off in inverse order of Saturday’s standings with the four co-leaders playing in the last two groups.