Jobe leads pa­rade of low scores at Ally

The Detroit News - - Sports - BY MATT CHARBONEAU The Detroit News

Grand Blanc — As it turns out, a lit­tle local knowl­edge is good to have on the golf course.

That cer­tainly was the case Fri­day in the first round of the in­au­gu­ral Ally Chal­lenge at Warwick Hills Golf & Coun­try Club.

At a course where most in the field had played in the past when it hosted the Buick Open on the PGA Tour, the birdies were al­most as plen­ti­ful in the 50-and-older Cham­pi­ons Tour event as they used to be on a lay­out that al­ways was sus­cep­ti­ble to giv­ing up low scores.

Seventy of the 78 play­ers in the field played in the Buick Open, in­clud­ing 10 who were cham­pi­ons. On Fri­day, it was Brandt Jobe that did the best at dust­ing off the me­mory and re­ly­ing on his knowl­edge of the 7,127-yard lay­out.

Jobe fired a 7-un­der 65 to grab the early one-shot lead over Jeff Mag­gert, Este­ban Toledo and three-time Buick Open cham­pion Vijay Singh, who all shot 6-un­der 66.

“The course is good, it's in great shape. It's like we re­mem“There’s

ber,” Jobe said. “It's tight and run­ning and it's get­ting good. If it gets a lit­tle firm, it's go­ing to get even more dif­fi­cult.

“It's been a while. There's a few trees miss­ing, a few things are dif­fer­ent. But yeah, I mean, it's kind of a friendly place. We all played here a bunch, so it's a great place. They sup­port golf here un­be­liev­ably well and re­ally nice for us to be here.”

Two shots back at 5-un­der was a group of play­ers that in­cluded Tom Lehman, Lee Janzen, Paul Broad­hurst, David Toms and David McKen­zie.

“It felt like the same as it did 25 years ago,” said Mag­gert, who had two ea­gles in a three-hole span on the back nine. “I think if you put me out here in the fair­way, I wouldn’t know the dif­fer­ence in time. The course is the same as it was. It’s a great course. The greens have al­ways been some of the best greens we ever putted and that’s why you see a lot of low scores here.”

The low scores were rem­i­nis­cent of so many Buick Opens in the past where birdies in bunches were re­quired. Jobe had six, in­clud­ing three straight to open this round on the back side. He added an ea­gle at No. 16 to help off­set one bo­gey.

It was a heck of a start for Jobe, the 53-year old who earned his first Cham­pi­ons Tour vic­tory ear­lier this sea­son but hadn’t played since the Se­nior Bri­tish Open in late July.

“I've had a lot of weeks off,” Jobe said. “You al­ways ex­pect to come back a lit­tle rusty. To­day was good, ball-strik­ing was re­ally good, made a few putts, but hit a lot of fair­ways and a lot of greens and kind of made it easy on my­self.”

It seemed nearly as easy for much of the field as more than half fin­ished the red num­bers.

Af­ter an ea­gle on No. 16, Mag­gert found him­self tied for the lead. How­ever, a bo­gey on No. 17 fol­lowed by a birdie putt left short on the 18th left him a shot be­hind Jobe.

“Some good things hap­pened, some bad things hap­pened, but over­all I played pretty steady,” Mag­gert said. “I made a few bad swings to­day, so hope­fully

first round in I can tighten that up a lit­tle on the week­end. But cer­tainly two ea­gles and five birdies cer­tainly coun­ter­acted some of the bad stuff.

“I knew there was go­ing to be some low scores out here. I feel like I need to be on pace to shoot close to 20 un­der par, so I've got to come out to­mor­row and keep mak­ing the birdies and hope­fully sneak an­other ea­gle in or two.”

No player in the field likely has the local knowl­edge of Singh, a three-time win­ner of the Buick Open (1997, 2004, 2005). He hit just 13 of 18 greens in reg­u­la­tion but needed just 25 putts to fin­ish at 66, his best score in a first round since the 2017 Se­nior PGA Cham­pi­onship.

“Drove the ball pretty good, I don't think I missed too many fair­ways,” Singh said. “If you drive the ball over here good, you're go­ing to give your­self a lot of birdie op­por­tu­ni­ties. I putted well, too. I made some pretty nice birdie putts. If you drive it well and putt well, you're go­ing to shoot a good num­ber.”

Dale G. Young/Detroit News

Ally Chal­lenge leader Brandt Jobe looks over a putt on the ninth green dur­ing his round of 7-un­der 65 at Warwick Hills on Fri­day.

Dale G. Young/Detroit News

Kenny Perry, left, looks over the shoul­der of Vijay Singh while they watch Singh’s tee shot on the first hole dur­ing the Ally Chal­lenge.

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