Cotner Takes Early Lead in Kansas

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WICHITA, Kan.-- Keoke Cotner opened with a 7-under-par 64 on Thursday to take a one-stroke lead after the first round of the Wichita Open.
 
Johnson Wagner along with a pair of two-time winners on the Nationwide Tour, Ben Bates and Gavin Coles, share second place at 6-under-par 65. Eleven players are one stroke further back at minus-five.
 
Cotner opened his round with a birdie at the 10th, playing as his first. He came back to birdie the par-5 14th. The 2000 Oregon Classic winner dropped in back-to-back birdies to close out his opening nine.
 
The 33-year-old parred the first six holes of his second nine. Cotner then dropped in a birdie try at the par-4 seventh. He came right back to birdie eight and nine to close out a bogey-free round of 64 on the north course at Crestview Country Club.
 
'I think we lucked out on the weather,' said Cotner. 'This afternoon it was nice with very little wind and no rain. With these conditions, you get an eight- or nine-iron in your hand and you're looking to knock the flag down.'
 
Wagner also opened with six consecutive pars on the front nine. He picked up birdies at the seventh and ninth. Wagner came back to birdie No. 10 to move to minus-three.
 
The 24-year-old dropped in birdies at the 14th and 15th to keep moving up the leaderboard. Wagner closed his bogey-free round with a birdie at the 18th.
 
Bates bogeyed the first, but came right back to birdie the second hole. He then went on to birdie Nos. 5 and 9 to head to the back nine at minus-two.
 
The 1997 Wichita Open and 2004 The Reese's Cup Classic winner picked up three birdies over a four-hole stretch from the 11th to get to minus-five. After bogeying the 15th, Bates closed with birdies at the 17th and 18th to share second place at minus-six.
 
'I just tried to play smart on the front nine,' said Bates. 'If you try to hit driver out here it is only a matter of time before you make a big number. If you're playing out of the fairway it is a pretty easy course. But if you're playing out of the rough you could shoot 80.'
 
Coles birdied three of his first five holes to get off to a quick start. He later birdied Nos. 10 and 11 to climb to minus-five. He then bogeyed the 13th. Coles, the 2002 Jacob's Creek Open Championship and 2004 New Zealand PGA Championship, also closed with birdies at the 17th and 18th to tie for second.
 
Jason Buha and Anthony Painter lead the group of 11 players at 5-under-par 66. Sixteen players are right behind that group at minus-four.
 
Jeff Klauk, the defending champion, opened with a 3-under-par 68 and stands in a tie for 32nd.
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - Preferred Systems Wichita Open
  • Full Coverage - Preferred Systems Wichita Open