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Pat Steiner shows he's in charge at Beaver Creek

August 12, 2007|By TIM KOELBLE

As president and CEO of Beaver Creek Country Club, Pat Steiner probably has a few perks, but none that carry on to the golf course.

There, he's just another golfer teeing it up, as he did on Saturday in the first round of the 24th WACO Championship at Beaver Creek.

And, he did it one shot better than anyone else in the 172-player field, as he posted a 1-under-par 71 to take the lead heading into today's final 18 holes.

Steiner holds the lead over Williamsport native Jesse Hoffman, who shot an even-par 72. He has a two-stroke lead over former WACO champion Kevin Reiber, of Waynesboro, Pa., and Adam Frank, of Fairfield, Pa., who each posted a 2-over-par 73.

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Steiner said he returned to town around midnight Friday from a weeklong vacation in Ocean City and had not touched a club for a week.

"By the time we unpacked, it was about 3 a.m. before I got some sleep," said Steiner, who also discovered he needed to replace his putter and put a new one in his bag about 20 minutes before he teed off.

He set the tone with a birdie on the 420-yard, par-4 opening hole with a crisp 8 iron to within 5 feet of the cup.

"I had three crisp shots and a nice way to start," he said.

He knocked down two birdies on the back nine, both on the par 5s, and other than a bogey on each nine, resulting from three-putt efforts, played solid with pars to finish his card of 36-35.

Hoffman, a former Shepherd University golfer, fashioned a 37-35 and would have been in an even better position had he not bogeyed his last two holes.

He had five birdies in his round, including four on the back nine.

"This is my best start in six years (of the WACO)," said Hoffman, "but Sunday is another day. I played well and made some big putts."

Steiner and Hoffman will be in the final pairing of the championship flight, teeing off today at 2:10 along with Frank in the threesome.

Reiber, who won the WACO in 2003 and 2004, made the front nine turn in 2-under 34 after he birdied the par-3 eighth, making a 25-foot putt, and the par-5 ninth, when a chip left him 2 feet from the cup.

"I played as good as I could for what I shot," said Reiber. "I hit the ball well, but I missed four short putts on the back nine."

Two-time defending champion Chad Bricker, of Waynesboro, had what he termed "a tragic day".

His round started immediately with a pair of bogeys on the way to a front-nine 39. Even after a birdie on the par-4 10th, Bricker lost a shot on each of the next two holes and then suffered a mental lapse that resulted in a two-stroke penalty.

Hitting right on the par-4 13th into high brush marked as a hazard, Bricker took practice swings inside the hazard.

"It was a tragic round and I even felt good warming up and thought it would be a good day," said Bricker. "Starting with those bogeys, and then I didn't make birds on four and five that I should have didn't help."

However, a deficit to Bricker is nothing new.

When he won last year, he fashioned a record 9-under 63 after a first-day 73.

"I'm in the same situation as last year and still have a second day," he said.

Overall, there are 13 players within three shots of Steiner in the championship flight when play begins today.

Former champions Chuck Ingram (Shepherdstown, W.Va.), Kenny Smith (Waynesboro) and Greg Henry (Boonsboro) are among those that are clearly within the top. Ingram shot a 75, Smith shot a 74 and Henry shot a 75.

Hagerstown's Ken Lampard was in the mix early with a 2-under par on the front nine, but ended with a 76.

After Saturday's round, golfers were placed into flights based on handicap and will compete in three other flights today in addition to the championship round.

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