SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- There's a small, but tight-knit bunch on the Michigan's local Golf Channel Am Tour. Three of them in particular have made the National Championships an annual occurrence for many years.
"They call us the 'Three Musketeers'," said Greg Harris, from Corunna, Michigan. Along with fellow Michiganders Bob Houghton and Eric Fox, they've been coming to Nationals since Golf Channel's first National Championship.
Now, none of the musketeers have ever won a National Championship. But Harris, perhaps carrying some momentum from his final round 80 in last year's Nationals (which earned him medalist honors), finds himself at the top of the Sr. Jones flight after an opening round 83 on the Talon Course at Grayhawk Golf Club.
Coming back to nationals time-and-time again may be helping Harris and the Michigan gang find a comfort zone.
"When I first started [coming to Nationals], it was a real grind," said Harris. "It was intimidating because of the hoopla and the celebrities. Then we learned to travel together and get more comfortable."
So, in the spirit of All for one and one for all, how are the other Musketeers doing? Well, Fox finds himself looking up at Harris in the Sr. Jones flight in 102nd place. Houghton is in the middle of the pack in the Hogan flight, tied at 72nd and 11 shots off the lead.
Can the Canadians make noise at Nationals?
New to the 2014 Golf Channel Am Tour is the Toronto local tour, and there are several Canadians competing this week in Scottsdale. One of them is faring quite well after one day of action. Mike Murphy, from Missasauga, finds himself two shots out of the lead in the Sr. Sarazen flight after a steady 79 on the South Course at Talking Stick.
Murphy's 2014 season included rounds at standout metro area courses in Toronto including Grand Niagara, Legends on Niagara and the challenging Legends Course at Lionhead Golf Club. He won the Turning Stone Classic, a major in upstate New York earlier this year. He is chasing Florida's Donald Westbrook, who opened with a 77.
All eyes on Hurricane Odile
Despite historic flooding, last week's Am Tour National Championship went largely unscathed .With three-plus inches of rain just days before the event, Grayhawk and Talking Stick managed to dry out just in time for round one.
This week's Senior Nationals, however, will need its own bit of luck. Hurricane Odile is making its way up Mexico's Baja California towards the Sonoran Desert. It's a rare track for a hurricane; the last one to make a similar route was Hurricane Olivia in 1967.
Tucson is expected to get the brunt of the storm when it hits midweek, but Phoenix-Scottsdale lies on the other rim, so it's tough to say just how wet things could get.
The threat of a potentially shortened event makes round all that more important for those who finished near the top of their flights in Round 1.