J. C. Snead birdied the 18th hole to complete a round of 6-under-par 66, and opened a four-stroke lead halfway through the Toyota Invitational at rainy Cattail Creek Country Club yesterday.
The event in western Howard County, featuring 21 Senior pros, is considered a testing stage for a possible future Senior Tour event in the area. Although many of the pros were effusive with their praise for the condition of the course -- a spikeless facility that does not permit carts on fairways -- there were some reservations about the length of some of the holes.
The course, which played about 6,500 yards, will go to its fullest extent, 6,624 yards, for today's round. The Seniors will be joined by 21 area club professionals and their respective club champions for individual and team competition.
Snead, whose 33-33 included seven birdies, was trailed by Jerry McGee, 70, and Bruce Summerhays, Jim Dent and Hale Irwin at 71. Dave Eichelberger, a tour winner 10 days ago, Butch Baird and Don Bies were at par-72.
"Nobody had seen this place before, and half the holes have doglegs. I'm lucky to have shot what I did, but overall, there'll be better scores [today]," said Snead, who has been battling back and hip woes in recent weeks.
"Early in the year, I was playing the best I had in 15 years, but I hurt my back. When you're injured, there is a tendency to favor it, and your whole swing gets out of kilter."
He has played only three of the last six weeks, but included a tie for second at the Burnet Senior Classic in suburban Minneapolis in that span.
McGee, who started at No. 10, birdied two of his first three holes, and the par-5 seventh. Each of the 71s birdied his final hole, Dent and Irwin at the 18th, and Summerhays at the ninth.
Eichelberger got to 3-under par through 12 holes, but said, "My driver got me at the end. I started spraying the tee ball, and added one three-putt."
On the tour, he ranks last in fairways hit. "Still, I'm 10 times better [with the driver] now than at the first of the year. At least I can keep it in bounds now."
David Graham, who has played 10 tour events since turning 50 in May, said his 74 "wasn't too exciting," and chose not to get into a discussion of the course, saying, "As one designer to another, it's a nice course."
He was not so charitable in discussing his recent ouster as International team captain for next month's Presidents Cup matches in Lake Manassas, Va.
"I'm still very upset," he said, "and I still haven't received a qualified, bona fide reason. I heard mixed reports as to the scenarios. I think it is disgusting, and I'd feel that way no matter who was the captain. If I'd done a poor job, I might have some understanding, but the excuses I heard were meaningless. I'd rather have them say, 'David Graham, we don't like you.' I could handle that."
Graham has decided not to take legal action, however.
"It's not in my best interests, and not in the best interests of the game for the players to get involved. There is no question they defamed my character, but I don't want to lower my standards to theirs."
Irwin, his rival captain when the United States defeated the International team in the first matches two years ago, said, "Whoever did this should be ashamed. The way this was handled was inexcusable."
NOTES: Cattail Creek member Bob Bilbo Jr., reigning Maryland State Amateur champion and a University of Maryland senior, set the course record with a 66 two weeks ago. . . . Irwin will conduct a clinic at 10 a.m., and former LPGA member Mary Bryan, one-time Columbia resident, will conduct a women's clinic at 1: 30.
J.C. Snead 33-3366; Jerry McGee 35-3570; Bruce Summerhays 34-3771; Jim Dent 35-3671; Hale Irwin 37-3471; Don Bies 35-3772; Butch Baird 36-3672; Dave Eichelberger 34-3872; Bruce Devlin 37-3673; David Graham 38-3674; Jack Kiefer 35-3974; Dewitt Weaver 37-3875; Charles Coody 39-3675; Jim Albus 39-3675; Bruce Lehnhard 38-3876; Tom Shaw 38-3876; Bruce Crampton 40-3777; Buddy Allin 37-4178; Bob Eastwood 38-4179; John Paul Cain 38-4381.
Pro-am winner: McGee, Paul Latta, Bill Dillard, Gail Kilgour, Gary Rivers 55.
Today's pairings: 8: 30 a.m.--Cain, Randy Porter, Phil Fairbaks; 8: 40--Eastwood, Brian Morrison, Bob Kaestner; 8: 50--Allin, Trent Wright, Bob Bilbo Jr.; 9: 00--Crampton, Bill Sporre, Gary Moore; 9: 10--Tom Shaw, John Starrett, Larry Storck; 9: 20--Lehnhard, Bill Horney, Marvin Guerra; 9: 30--Weaver, Greg Stark, Craig Burton; 9: 40--Charles Coody, Bob Dolan, Dan Derisio; 9: 50--Albus, Dennis Satyshur, Doug Ballenger; 10: 00--David Graham, Mike Ahrnsbrak, Perky Cullinane; 10: 10--Kiefer, Greg Jones, Dan Walko; 10: 20--Devlin, Lyle Williams, Ron Bubes; 10: 30--Gilbert, Bud Lintelman, Mike Gannon; 10: 40--Bies, Jim Fitzgerald, Steve Gunther; 10: 50--Baird, Mike McGinnis, Bob Dailey III; 11: 00--Eichelberger, Larry Ringer, Tim Moylan; 11: 10--Summerhays, Robert Leeman, David Kaplan; 11: 20--Dent, John McCloskey, Bob Weinhoffer; 11: 30--Irwin, Steve Madsen, Mike Watson; 11: 40--McGee, Wayne DeFrancesco, Joel Kaye; 11: 50--Snead, Glen Barrett, Todd Pratt.
Pub Date: 8/13/96