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Carpenter uses eagle to construct early lead at WACO

August 10, 2013|By TIM KOELBLE | koelble@herald-mail.com
  • Andrew Huff chips on to the 17th green Saturday afternoon during the 1st day of the 2013 WACO.
Joe Crocetta / Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN, Md. — As competitors finished up their round at Beaver Creek Country Club on Saturday, many stopped to see who was leading the 30th annual WACO Open.

Many asked the same question — “Who is Gary Carpenter?”

Aside from being a nice guy and a pretty good golfer, Carpenter is the leader after carding a 3-under-par 69 for a 1-stroke lead over Rob Cimarolli heading into today’s final round. Cimarolli, of Pittsburgh, recorded a late afternoon 70.

Three golfers are locked in a third-place tie, including former WACO champion Kenny Smith along with Alex Hoffman and Bernie Deane.

Carpenter, of Crofton, Md., made his golfing name times two. He teamed with his father, Gary Sr., to win the United States and World father-son championships in 2010 and 2011.

Carpenter decided to make his first visit to Beaver Creek in more than a decade.

“I came in expecting to play solid golf,” Carpenter said. “I kept the ball in play, hit my driver only four times. I hit the ball where I wanted and left myself in good spots.”

Carpenter will be in the final tee group today at 1:20 p.m., along with Cimarolli and Hoffman.

Carpenter got his first look at Beaver Creek since 1992 with a practice round on Friday. He competed in the prep districts in 1992 while playing golf at Arundel High School.

He fired a 34 on the front nine and closed with a 35 on the back Saturday, putting one eagle and three birdies on his card to offset two bogeys.

Carpenter made his big move with an eagle on the 505-yard, par-5 15th hole. He hit a 3-wood from 224 yards out to within 8 feet of the pin, which he promptly sank.

“I just want to be aggressive Sunday,” he said.

Smith, who won titles in 2002 and 2007, was playing in the WACO for the first time after a two-year absence. He came in with a 35-36 as he looks to become the tournament’s third three-time champion.

Hoffman, who plays for the University of Maryland after transferring from Memphis University, had a front 35 and came in with a 36 as he rebounds from injuries. Deane, from Frederick, Md., also had a 35-36.

Defending champion Steve Ligi, from Frederick, was among the early players on the course and came in with a 2-over-par 74.

“I only had one birdie (on 18) and was just too inconsistent from 100 yards in,” Ligi said. “I struggled with my tempo, but I’m not completely out of it. The difference from today and (Sunday) is making putts.”

Cimarolli’s started his round in a way that would not have indicated a sub-par effort was on the horizon when he bogeyed his first two holes.

He posted pars on the next three holes and then carved out five birdies along the way with only one more bogey.

Chuck Thatcher, of Boonsboro, one of the pre-tournament favorites, ballooned to a 77 and will need, in his words, “a course record” to get back into contention Sunday.

Players will compete in four flights Sunday established after Saturday’s round, including a newly created senior flight.

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