Lombardi leads Maryland Open with 67

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Kirk Lombardi couldn't get enough golf yesterday. After playing in one tournament, he went out and found another.

Lombardi, an amateur from Norbeck Country Club, fired a 4-under-par 67 to take the first-round lead in the 74th annual Maryland Open at Chartwell Country Club.

Then he grabbed his bag and drove an hour and 10 minutes to the Middle Atlantic Father-Son Tournament in Chantilly, Va. He joined his father Ray on the second tee, and they finished "in the middle of the pack."

At Chartwell, Lombardi, 30, a Rockville High grad, had his best round of the year, sparkling with four birdies, three on the back nine. Once a pro, Lombardi discovered he wasn't good enough to make the PGA Tour and regained his amateur status.

"This was my best round in a long time," Lombardi said. "I didn't miss one shot. I was never in jeopardy of making a bogey. Flawless."

"Kirk was very consistent -- no bogeys, four birdies," said Jamie jTC Childs, an assistant pro at Queenstown Harbor who was in Lombardi's threesome. "He putted well and hit a lot of greens. The key this week is to keep it on the fairway. They're very narrow and the rough is thick."

Larry Ringer of Country Club at Woodmore said the course "threw me for a loop," notwithstanding his 70.

"The course had been the same for 20 years, but they've switched nines -- the 10th hole is No. 1 and No. 9, which was par 5, is now a par 4," Ringer said. "It's a great course, but it doesn't give you a chance to get into the flow."

Ringer is "still not back to earth" following his tie for 21st in the U.S. Senior Open the week before last at Congressional Country Club. He was the opening-round leader with a 68, soared to an 80, then finished 69 and 74. Until yesterday, he had played only 18 holes since then.

"It was so emotional," Ringer said. "Every green, people cheered. On No. 18 the last day, people started cheering when I was 150 yards from the hole. It was tough walk [on his emotions], I'll tell you. But those people kept me going."

As a result of his Senior Open performance, Ringer was selected to make three TV commercials for the Senior Series Tour, a mini-tour for seniors. He will fly to South Bend, Ind., Thursday to make them.

The lone hole-in-one of the day was turned in by Somsak Chivavibul of Norbeck, whose 69 left him third behind Lombardi and David Newsom (69) of Hidden Creek Country Club in Reston, Va. His 8-iron on the par 3, 160-yard 13th hole hit a foot past the pin, spun back and dropped in.

"First of my life," Chivavibul said, grinning.

Maryland Open defending champion Wayne DeFrancesco of Woodholme Country Club checked in with a 72.

"The round could have been better, but it didn't hurt me," said DeFrancesco, the Middle Atlantic Section's 1994 Player of the Year.

Three-time winner Marty West III struggled to a 75 after starting 3 under par through the seventh hole.

"Then I started missing everything," West said. "I wasn't even making three-foot putts. The wheels came off."

The original field of 153 was trimmed for today's round to the low 80 plus ties (score of 77 or better). For tomorrow's final round, it will be cut to the low 40 plus ties.

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