Walker Dynamite in Panama

By Sports NetworkFebruary 5, 2004, 5:00 pm
Nationwide TourPANAMA CITY, Panama -- Jimmy Walker fired a 5-under-par 65 on Thursday to take a one-shot lead with the opening round of the Panama Championship suspended due to darkness. This is the first time the Nationwide Tour has played an event in Central America.
Play was suspended due to darkness at 6:45 p.m. ET, with 15 players yet to finish their first round. Those players will return to the course at 8:00 a.m. Friday. The second round will begin as scheduled at 7:30 a.m.
Tom Scherrer, Richie Coughlan and Jon Mills all carded rounds of 4-under-par 66. Greg Bruckner also stands at minus-4 through 17 holes. Jason Caron and Jeff Freeman are one stroke further back at 3-under-par 67.
Walker opened his round with three straight pars at Panama Golf Club. He got on the board with a 25-foot birdie at the par-5 fourth and the 25-year-old came back with a birdie at the par-3 sixth.
After a string of five consecutive pars, he ran home a birdie at the par-5 12th. Walker came back with a birdie at the par-4 14th and capped a bogey-free round with a birdie on No. 16.
'I just played a really solid round today,' said Walker. 'I made a couple of good putts, including a 25-footer on No. 6 for birdie. I'm happy to start playing again. I took about two weeks off after the PGA Tour National Qualifying Tournament and then I got the bug back.'
Mills also started on the front nine and managed just one birdie at the fourth. On the back side, he notched back-to-back birdies from the 11th and made it three in four holes with a birdie on the 14th. However, he dropped a stroke at the 15th before coming back to birdie par-4 16th.
Scherrer got going with birdies at the third and ninth, before climbing to 4 under when he birdied Nos. 10 and 12. He stumbled to a bogey at the 16th but grabbed a share of second place with a birdie at the following hole.
'The chip-in on the third hole got me going because it could have easily been a bogey had it not gone in,' said Scherrer. 'You have to stay below the hole on this golf course. If you are long it is almost impossible to chip the ball back downhill.'
Coughlan birdied the par-4 first and moved to 3 under when he eagled the par-5 third. He birdied the seventh to get to 4 under, but dropped a shot at the following hole. After nine pars in a row, he birdied the last to get back to minus-4.
Bruckner birdied the third and eagled the fourth to quickly open his round at minus-3. He dropped a shot at the seventh, but came right back with a birdie at the next. He wrapped birdies at the 12th and 16th around a bogey on No. 14. He was on the 18th hole when action was halted for the night.
John Klauk and his brother Jeff, who won the Wichita Open last year, each carded rounds of 2-under-par 68. They are joined at minus-2 by Jim Rutledge, Darron Stiles, Brian McCann and Raul Fretes, who has only completed 17 holes.
Charles Warren, Jeff Quinney and Franklin Langham head a group of 10 players at 1-under-par 69.
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