Sear leads qualifier |

Sear leads qualifier

by Charles Whisnand

DAYTON – Washoe Valley’s Steve Sear had a day that most golfers could only dream about.

Sear tied the course record when he fired a 9-under-par 63 on Tuesday during the first round of the first stage of PGA qualifying on Tuesday at Dayton Valley. Sear led three golfers by three strokes on a day when the scores were low thanks to mostly favorable weather and soft greens.

Chris Kamin of Phoenix, Brian Kortan of Albuquerque, N.M., and Brad Sutterfield of St. George, Utah, all fired 66s to share second.

Other golfers of note included Billy Harvey of Las Vegas, who won the U.S. Amateur qualifier held this past summer at Dayton, and Georgia Tech four-time All-American Bryce Molder of Scottsdale, Ariz., who both shot 70. They were in a logjam of 13 golfers who were tied for 17th.

The top 22 golfers, including ties, will all advance to the second stage of PGA qualifying for the chance to make it to the PGA qualifying school. The event continues today with the second round and will conclude with Friday’s fourth and final round.

Another golfer with local ties, Doug Quienalty, a former Carson City resident, also fared well. Quienalty, a former Dayton club champion who now lives in Lake Charles, La., shot 71.

Sear, 35, has been a member at Thunder Canyon for the past year. He also played out of Southern California’s La Quinta for 10 years and out of the Bay area as well.

He birded the first three holes and eagled his 12th hole, the par-5 No. 3. Sear birdied seven holes overall.

“I got a good start,” he said. “Basically, my irons were really good today. I was able to hit it close, which set me up with a lot of opportunities. I missed some putts, but the thing is, when you hit it close, even if you miss, you’re still looking at a short putt.”

A 63 is outstanding on any day on any course.

“I’ll take it, especially in a qualifier,” he said. “I was tremendously nervous today – with every shot.

“What I have to do is put this round behind me and move on. Sometimes a good round can work against you.”

Sear elaborated, saying a golfer can just play to make the cut. “I just need to keep going out there with my game plan,” he said.

“The thing about this course is, there are holes you can birdie, and there are also a few holes that can jump up and bite you. So what I have to do is try for those birdies, and at the same time, try to stay away from big numbers.”

Sutterfield has already been on the PGA Tour in 1997 and he’s been playing at Dayton ever since in an effort to return to the tour.

“I just played solid,” said Sutterfield about his round. “I didn’t make any mistakes, any real mistakes.

I got off to a decent start. I’m trying not to be too excited about it. I know the wind can blow 100 miles an hour and anything can happen.”

Sutterfield said the key is just to keep playing solid. “You know you’re going to make mistakes, but limit your mistakes and don’t let them affect you.”

During his round, Sutterfield’s only bogey came on No. 15. The wind also began to pick up on his final three holes, but Sutterfield managed to finish 1-under on his last three holes.

“It changed the tone of everything,” said Sutterfield about the wind at the finish.

He had seven birdies and the longest putt he made for birdie came from 25 feet on No. 12.

“The others were all makeable putts,” Sutterfield said. “I played the par 5s well. That’s the key to the course.”

Sutterfield also said golfers have to shoot at least 2 to 3-under on the par 5s to have a chance.

While he likes the course, Sutterfield said he will not return to Dayton no matter if he qualifies for the PGA or not. “Although I’ve said that every year,” he said.

“I don’t want to say I love the place. I’ve seen every side of it. I know the course well enough, that going somewhere else wouldn’t make any sense.”

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