With rare effort, Nielson, Brown get to Open front


MITCHELVILLE - Practice is supposed to make perfect, but for two of the leaders at the 83rd Maryland Open, practice hasn't mattered much.

Neither Russ Nielson nor Moose Brown has played much golf this year, with Nielsen playing only 12 rounds, but the two are tied for first along with Jared Goslee after shooting 2-under par 69 yesterday at the Country Club at Woodmore.

"I'm actually playing less golf this year than ever," said Nielsen, who has been the head pro at Woodmont Country Club for three years.

Brown, 36, an amateur from Towson, has played the Open five or six times in his memory, the previous time in 1990. He chose to play this year for the $40,000 purse only because he gained entrance on an exemption after winning last year's Mid-Amateur.

Helping Brown share the day's low was an eagle on the 10th hole. Using a pitching wedge from 115 yards, Brown put the ball five feet behind the cup and then watched it reverse field toward the hole.

Nielsen's hole-in-one on the par-3 No. 14 preceded a birdie on No. 15, earning him his lowest round at the Open.

Goslee birdied three of the final five holes to put himself atop the leader board.

Eighty-five of the 133 golfers who began remain today after yesterday's cut. Those players include past winners Dennis Winters, Chip Sullivan and Steve Madsen but not 2003 champion Kirk Lombardi.

Lombardi and Jim Estes provided some excitement last year as the two went to a sudden-death playoff. But Lombardi didn't play up to the same level as last year, double-bogeying three of the last six holes en route to a 78.

"The reign is over, but it was nice while it lasted," Lombardi said while waiting to find out whether he would make the cut. "I'm a little disappointed. You don't want it to feel like it was a fluke last year. I had to get some breaks to play like I did last year, but I didn't."

Sullivan sits at 73 this morning, with Madsen and Winters behind him at 74 and 76, respectively.

Towson University sophomore Jeff Castle sat in great position after the front nine, shooting a 32, but he struggled on the back side, shooting par only twice in closing with a 73.

His Towson teammate, Billy Wingerd, who last month won the Maryland Amateur, was scheduled to play in the Maryland Open as well, but he withdrew with bigger plans.

Wingerd qualified for the U.S. Amateur Public Links tournament, which is being played this week in Maple Grove, Minn.

Maryland Open

First-round leaders

Moose Brown 69; Jared Goslee 69; Russ Nielson 69; David Long 70; Dirk Schultz 70; Timothy Moylan 71; Tim O'Neill 71; Charles Briggs 72; Ted Harris 72; Dan Hoffman 72; Kelly Manders 72; Gary Mankulish Jr. 72; Jonathan Powell 72; Bill Rislove 72.

Bobby Ashton 73; Jeff Castle 73; Wayne DeFrancesco 73; Matthew Finger 73; James Fitzgerald 73; Chuck Freedman 73; Bill Gombert 73; Nathan Hoffman 73; Michael Kelly 73; Glenn McCloskey 73; Brian Meyer 73; Chad Perman 73; Ted Pogorelc 73; Rick Sovero 73; Joshua Spreng 73; Chip Sullivan 73; Ricky Touma 73.

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