By TIM KOELBLE
11:32 PM EDT, August 9, 2012
A two-under-par 70 has been the norm for Chuck Thatcher in the first round of the last two WACO Championships.
Last year was good enouogh to share the first-round lead with eventual winner Jim Markovitz. This year, Thatcher hopes to eliminate the second-round blues.
The 29th edition WACO Open tees off on Saturday at 6:30 a.m. with 148 golfers perusing the 6,650-yard layout of Beaver Creek Country Club.
A disappointing 75 took Thatcher out of contention, but he bounced back and rediscovered his game to win the Frederick City Amateur weeks later.
“I’ve forgotten what happened (Sunday) last year,” said Thatcher. “I’ve used that as a learning experience.
“I’ve undergone some swing changes, looking for more consistency in all areas. It’s taken a lot of work.”
While a rain-free weekend might not be guaranteed, one thing is: There will be a new WACO Champion.
Markovitz, from Pittsburgh, has turned professional since his victory. Even Chris Baloga, the 2010 champ, won’t be in the field as he will concentrate on the Maryland Mid-Amateur Monday and Tuesday.
Washington County representation in the victory club has been absent since 1999 when Finley Benjiman won. From 2002-09, golfers from the Waynesboro, Pa., area finished first.
Beaver Creek club pro Dirk Schultz said players such as Thatcher, Randy Barnes and Ray Sheedy are on the “pick-’ems” list to win.
Three-time champion Greg Henry is in the field along with other former champions, Benjamin and Drew Forrester.
“It’s a smaller field but I think there is more quality throughout,” said tournament director Rod Steiner. “As usual there will be tough pin placements, especially with slower greens.”
Schultz predicts that players with a good iron game will succeed.
“There is fully grown rough, it’s not brown,” said Schultz. “The ball won’t roll as deep into the rough.”
With the regular stream of hot days, Beaver Creek has protected the greens, leaving them slower than normal, which will make them receptive with crisp irons.
“I think putting will be easier because they’ve been protected,” said Schultz.
After Saturday’s round, players will be placed into the second, third and fourth flights in addition to the championship flight.
The single-round scoring record of 9-under-par 63 and the tournament scoring mark of 136 are both held by Bricker, each set in 2006.
29th WACO Championship
Saturday's Tee Times
6:30 — Randy Cree, Marc Cree, Michael Kauffman, Steve Ligi
6:40 — Scott Raley, Keith Kern, Jeff Snowden, Mike Raley
6:50 — Bill Kushay, Tim Steiner, Finley Benjiman, Chris Rhodes
7:00 — Drew Forrester, Paul Sweeney, Sam Chan, Chris Stewart
7:10 — Darren Wishard, Bob Sanchez, Justin Aud, Carl Childers
7:30 — Vance Welch, Anthony Moots, A.J. Edmonston, Ray Sheedy
7:40 — Mike Starliper, Richard Rostek, Jarrod Berthold, Kevin Kurtyka
7:50 — Greg Henry, Bernie Deane, Jason Ferguson, Chris Wiedel
8:00 — Art Cline, Carl Cline, Paul Babineau, Matt Showden
8:10 — Ian Elkin, Chuck Thatcher, John Bowman, Bryan Gammill
8:20 — Mark Deitrich, Kyle Albrecht, Mike Martin, Tony Baker
8:30 — Jim Spatz, Keith Shindle, Bob Carney, Charlie Drummond
8:40 — Don Gill, Adam Poulson, Dave Poulson, Max Bell
8:50 — Mike Butts, Greg Deck, Chris Wagner, Caleb Hudlow
9:00 — Harry Troxler, Tom Huffman, John Troxler, Ed Shuttleworth
9:10 — Pat Steiner, Tim Navarro, ChrisKelley,Paul Gentzel
9:20 — Ken Lampard, Ty Bordner, Ken Winfield, Dave Hul
9:30 — Jim Austin, Jason Stevens, Todd Hull, Kirk Waldeck
9:40 — NikSteiner, ChrisNavarro, Kyle Huntzberry, Aaron Staley
9:50 — Matt Hershman, Mark Hershman, Christian Grosh, Bill Calhoun
10:00 — Chris Hafner, Christopher Hafner, Bill Reed, Rod Steiner
10:10 — Dan Allen, Dennis Stoner, Phil Healy, David Healy
10:20 — Randy Boyer, Mike Shifflett, Wayne Shifflett, Arthur Frey
10:30 — Paul Sager, Ken Kasai, Andrew Miguel, Ray Stoner
10:40 — Ira Pearlman, Jon Mann, Todd Parks, Steve Miguel
10:50 — Scott Drury, Tony Benedetto, Bob Lentz, Ross Ellberg
11:00 — Armond Tom, Mike Fixx, Mike Trombetta, Michael Michaelangelo
11:10 — Brian Fixx, Sean Byers, Bill Kukucka
11:20 — BobHoffman, Paul Laushell, Dave Cimino
11:40 — Alex Moyseenko, Jim Sklencar, Darren Weaver, Jerry Blickenstaff
11:50 — Ryan Crabtree, Randy Barnes, Alex Hoffman, Brian Crabtree
12:00 — Rob Cimarolli, EdwardKuenzig, Craig Borst, Ravi Bhathal
12:10 — Alec Kessler, Chris Bushey, Derek Baker, Josh Spreng
12:20 — David Boggs, Greg Foster, Billy Harper, Jim Burton
12:30 — Marty King, Steve Yasko, Jordan Wivell, Vernon Knable
12:40 — Austin Green, Matt Walters, Dan Manglitz, Jesse Duffey
1:00 — Jim Everett, ChrisMullen, Eric Mathias, Bill Snider
1:10 — Ron Brown Jr., Greg Klus, Andrew Duff