Haas in the Hunt in N Carolina


Champions TourCARY, North Carolina -- Mark Wiebe made a good impression Friday in his first round as a member of the Champions Tour at the SAS Championship.
Wiebe shot a 7-under 65 to share the first-round lead with another unlikely leader, Champions Tour Q School medalist Boonchu Ruangkit of Thailand, at Prestonwood County Club as the players took advantage of a course softened by much-needed rain.
Dana Quigley trailed the leaders by one stroke and four others shot 5-under. The overcast conditions and rain allowed the players to play aggressively. That showed as the field scoring average on the day (71.359) was the lowest opening-round average in the event's seven-year history.
'I had a great time,' said Wiebe, who birdied his first two holes and two of the last three. 'I didn't know anyone on the Nationwide Tour unless I played with them a couple of times. It's cool to play with guys close to my age. A 65 is enjoyable any day.'
Originally scheduled to take this week off due to a sore right wrist, Ruangkit received a call Monday from Champions Tour officials notifying him of an open spot. Ruangkit and his caddy, James Jarurojana hopped on a plane in Los Angeles late Monday night and made it.
'I got everything,' Ruangkit said, with Jarurojana interpreting. 'I only missed one fairway and hit all the greens in regulation. I had chances for birdies on every hole. I just tried to do my best.'
Ruangkit birdied holes 15-17 and had a chance to take the outright lead on 18 but missed a par putt of about 10 feet.
Tom Purtzer, Dick Mast, Dennis Watson, and David Edwards are two shots behind the leaders. Joe Ozaki, Mark James, 2003 champion D.A. Weibring, Jay Haas, 2001-02 champ Bruce Lietzke, Jeff Sluman and Massy Kuramoto sit at 4-under 68. In all, 43 of the 78 players in the field shot below par including Fulton Allem (3-under), who also made his Champions Tour debut.
'I think you'll see a lot of low scores,' Quigley said. 'There are some really good players out here ... and the course is in great shape. You see the infusion of new blood and you have to do better.'
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