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Schultz stalks Franz for early lead at Maryland Open

July 15, 2008|By TIM KOELBLE

Joe Franz was surprised by his round of golf.

Dirk Schultz had a round of bogey-free golf, something that he doesn't enjoy too often.

Franz took the lead following the first round of the 87th Maryland Open championship at Fountain Head Country Club with a 3-under-par 67 on Monday, good for a one-stroke lead over Schultz.

"I'm totally surprised because I really haven't played that well this year," said Franz, a pro from Elkridge Club in Baltimore. "I kept the ball in play, used my driver maybe six times and had good speed on my putts. Best round of the year."

Franz, 41, who last played at Fountain Head in the 1997 Open, started in the 1 p.m. pairing as the greens started to dry because of a light breeze that followed Sunday's rain.

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He started with a birdie on the par-4, 360-yard opening hole, followed with a birdie on the par-5, 478-yard third hole and finished the front nine with birdies at Nos. 7 and 9 to offset one bogey for a 32. He finished with an even-par 35 on the back nine.

"I hit a wedge to within eight feet on No. 1 and 10 feet on No. 3 for birdies and had a chip-in on the back nine on 12," said Franz. "I just want to keep it going and keep it in play Tuesday."

Beaver Creek's Schultz, who can put a bogey on his scorecard as quickly as a birdie with his free swing, avoided any big numbers and was 2 under on his first nine, which started from the 10th tee.

He birdied the 400-yard 14th with a 330-yard drive and a 72-yard wedge to within 12 feet. After scrambling to save par on 17, he birdied the 418-yard 18th coming out of the rough with a fade shot to within 10 feet of the hole.

"I had nerves in the beginning," he said. "I wasn't comfy to start."

Schultz probably saved his round from disaster on the the third hole when he chunked a drive, went into a bunker and then hit 95 yards short of the green. His pitch was 15 feet right of the pin and he saved par with a touchy, but successful sliding putt.

"That was a biggin," he said coming off the hole. "No bogeys for someone like me is like a risk-reward. I'm just going to take the same approach (today), get to each tee, see what the wind is doing and decide what to do."

Five players - Eric Egloff (Sandy Spring), Jim Estes (Olney Park), Eric Cobb (Ingleside Resort), Terry Burke (Burning Tree) and 2000 champion Dennis Winters (Nassawango) - were in the hunt with 1-under 69s.

Another stroke back at even par were Chip Sullivan (Ashley Plantation), David Long (CC at Woodmore), John Scott Rattan (Montgomery Village), Jeff Castle (Towson Golf Club) and Don Slebodnik (Nighthawk).

Sullivan, the Open champ in 2002, 2004 and 2006, said he was happy with his round despite a three-week layoff with tendinitis in his left wrist.

He posted a 35-35 card and he might have been nearer to the lead if not for bogeys on 16 and 17 while finishing his round.

"I'm happy with the round," said Sullivan. "I'll just have to shoot in the 60s tomorrow. Maybe with no driver."

Of the other local participants, Fountain Head assistant Brian Boggs led the way with a 74.

"No putts would drop," Boggs said. "It could have been worse if I'd have gotten mad."

Ken Lampard said he hit the ball well despite his 76.

"I just didn't get it up and down," he said. "Zero putts, zero birdies."

Black Rock's Steve Caron had a 78 and Alex Hoffman and Don Bachtell, also out of Black Rock, each shot a 79. Beaver Creek's Greg Henry labored through an 82.

The second round begins today at 8 a.m. The field will be cut to the top 40 and ties after the round for Wednesday's final round.

For more on the Maryland Open, go to www.herald-mail.com/sports/blogs/koelble

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