MILWAUKEE (AP) — The U.S. Bank Championship has only a few notable names when compared with the British Open. But the lack of star power doesn’t deter Greg Chalmers’ belief something amazing will happen — maybe even to him.
Chalmers shot a 6-under 64 on Thursday to tie Jeff Klauk for the lead after the first round of the Milwaukee tournament on Thursday.
“I’ve played in several opposite-field events and it typically provides a fantastic story for someone if they’re not a named player,” Chalmers said. “It could be a first-time winner, it could be someone who goes from nowhere to somewhere very quickly.
“People talk about the great stories, the Tiger Woods, the Phil Mickelsons and all the top players, but sometimes some of the best stories are about the guys who are battling away and manage to find a week where they strike gold.”
Frank Lickliter II, Tag Ridings, Jason Gore and Skip Kendall all finished at 4-under 66.
The tournament that’s opposite the British Open and needs a new title sponsor gives many players a realistic shot at winning, like Chalmers, who was eighth on the Nationwide tour money list last season and has only one second place finish on the PGA tour in 2000.
Still, a bogey-bogey start for the left-handed Chalmers could have buried him early, but he stuck with a simpler grip from earlier in his career and felt his putting was as strong as it has been all season.
“I’m 35 years old, I’m not 19 years old, I’ve got an idea of what it takes to stay competitive and ultimately if it was going to be a good day, certainly, getting down on it wasn’t going to help,” Chalmers said. “I got intrigued when I holed a 60 footer and a 30 footer two holes in a row. That sort of got my attention.”
Chalmers, who tinkered with his putting grip and chose a simpler approach, made birdies on five of his final six holes on the front nine, including the long putts on No. 4 and No. 5. He also birdied the final three holes.
Klauk shot 5 under on the front nine after needing only nine putts. He made his only mistake with a bogey at No. 12. But the 31-year-old PGA tour rookie rebounded with back-to-back birdies and finished the round with four straight pars.
Klauk grew up around the pros because his father, Fred, was the longtime superintendent at the TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., before retiring last year.
The younger Klauk, who played seven years on the Nationwide tour, has been cut in three of the last four tournaments he’s entered.
“These tournaments are definitely an opportunity, but you still have to play well,” he said. “I think if you play well any week, you’re going to have a chance on Sunday. Just because, yeah, you might not have a lot of the guys here but the depth of the PGA tour—it’s very deep, everybody’s good.”
Joe Ogilvie, who won this tournament in 2007, shot a 3-under 67 and is the most recent champion to play here after last year’s winner, Richard S. Johnson, skipped the event to play at the British Open.
Ogilvie said Johnson told him to win in Milwaukee.
“It would be nice to sort of repeat, I guess,” Ogilvie said. “I do have the first parking space up there. I don’t feel like I’m the defending champion, but I feel very comfortable having won and being the last winner here.”
Brown Deer Park Golf Course is the shortest PGA tour event on the schedule— a 6,759-yard par 70—and generally players shoot low when conditions are calm, but a swirling wind kept scores in check on the first day and led to the highest scoring average for a round (70.79) since 2004.
“It felt like the wind blew from five or six different directions,” Chalmers said. “When it’s like that, it’s not so much about what you hit, it’s about when you hit. You have to really time, wait for the wind to be the direction you know it is. Sometimes, you just get it wrong.”