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Stadler grabs share of lead at Champions Tour in Illinois

  • June 22, 2013 - 7:58 AM

GLENVIEW, Ill. — Craig Stadler birdied five of his first 11 holes on Friday to jump into a share of the lead with Duffy Waldorf and Bernhard Langer at 5-under-par 67 in the rain-delayed Champions Tour Encompass Championship at North Shore Country Club.

There were 23 players left on the course when play on the 54-hole tournament was suspended by darkness. Stadler, who didn't start until after a 3-hour, 28-minute delay for severe weather was in the next-to-last group to finish.

The players with holes remaining will do so Saturday morning before the second round begins.

The fourth of Stadler's five birdies was his best. His 7-iron from a divot in the middle of the fairway stopped a foot from the cup.

Seven players, including Chicago-area native Gary Hallberg and area resident Jeff Sluman, are a stroke back at 4-under 68, while Peter Senior and Mark Calcavecchia are at 4-under on their back nine. Major championship winners Corey Pavin, Bob Tway and Hal Sutton lead a pack of eight players at 3-under 69.

Both Waldorf and Langer finished their rounds after the delay, with Waldorf bogeying his last hole to drop from 6-under. Langer parred his final two holes after the thunderstorms passed. Hallberg holed out from the fairway for an eagle 2 at the 18th to reach 4-under.

Sandy Lyle and Blaine McCallister were in the clubhouse at 68 before the storm hit and dropped eighth-tenths of an inch of rain on the course. Lyle birdied three of his first seven holes, and then played his final 11 in 1-under to settle at 68. McCallister was 5-under through 17 holes, but stumbled by missing the green in regulation and failed to convert a 20-foot par-saving putt.

Among the others at 68, David Frost opened with a double-bogey 6, but played his back nine in 4-under-par 32 to claim a share of third. Jeff Hart birdied three of his last six holes to climb to 4-under, while Sluman played the back nine in 3-under 33 to score his 68. Hoch's round was birdie-free.

Stadler's 67 was his best first-round score since a 67 at the AT&T Championship late in the 2008 season. On Friday, he benefited from soft greens that accepted shots from all angles, and hit 16 greens in regulation, even though he landed in only nine of 14 fairways.

"It was hard getting your short irons close, because the ball kept spinning back," Stadler said as darkness closed in.

Waldorf was on the ninth hole, his last of the day, with the thunderstorm system on the verge of hitting the course when the horn was blown. He ended up three-putting his last hole for a bogey 5.

"When you're playing well, you definitely want to keep playing," Waldorf said. "It would have been a big difference."

Waldorf hit 15 greens and one-putted eight holes, including all six birdie holes.

McCallister played bogey-free golf until his last hole, the par-4 ninth, which he was hurrying to finish before play was halted.

"There's a lot running through your mind," McCallister said. "You're trying to beat the weather. You know it's coming, but I stayed patient today."

McCallister nearly holed out for eagle on the par-4 second hole, his 11th of the day, sinking a one-footer for birdie, and added a birdie on the par-5 third to get to 5-under. He stayed there until the bogey at the ninth. It was still his best opening round since June of 2010.

Lyle hit nine of 14 fairways and 13 greens en route to his 68, taking only 28 putts. The round would have been better had Lyle not bogeyed three of the four par-3 holes.

There were 48 players under par and another 11 of the 80-man field at par when play was suspended for the day.

The storm also left a large gallery to scatter. Many were following Sluman and former Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher, participating in the celebrity pro-am team portion of the competition.

A pair of teams were tied at 13-under 59 for the first round lead.

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