Eagle Gives Rinker One-Shot Lead


RALEIGH, NC -- Larry Rinker holed a 4-wood into the wind for an eagle-2 en route to a 6-under-par 65 Thursday and a one-shot lead over Bobby Gage after the opening round of the Buy.Com Carolina Classic.
James Driscoll, the runner-up to Jeff Quinney at the 2000 U.S. Amateur Championship at Baltusrol, shot a 4-under 67 to finish the round in third place.
Rinker was 2-under when he roped his 4-wood into the wind for an approach at the 480-yard par-4 eighth hole at the TPC at Wakefield Plantation. The ball rolled in the cup from 80 feet for an improbable two and sent him to 4-under-par as he made the turn.
'That had to be the shot of the day,' said Rinker, who has made only two cuts in five tries this season. 'I've had that 4-wood for 12 years. It's the oldest club in my bag and I never made a wood before. I have 12 holes-in-one but that was a defining moment.'
His hot play continued on the back side as he drained a 50-foot birdie putt at No. 10 and followed with a pair of 12-footers -- for par at 11 and for birdie at the 12th. Rinker dropped a shot when he three-putted the 14th green but reclaimed the lost stoke with a five-foot birdie putt at the last.
'It was a phenomenal day,' said Rinker, who needed only 23 putts on Thursday. 'I pulled stuff out of my hat. It's just one those days.'
Gage was 6-under through 10 holes but he played an up-and-down back nine. He collected three birdies and two bogeys before reaching his 16th hole of the day, the seventh at the TPC. Gage three-putted from 30 feet at 16 for a bogey and did the same thing at the next hole, taking three stabs from around 30 feet.
'If I get the putter rolling, I'm going to shoot 50 something,' said Gage, who posted a 66 in round one. 'It was all or nothing out there. It's not just rolling them in there and sticking them. I have to put the ball somewhere on the green where I can stop it.'
Keoke Cotner, Travis Nance, Jaxon Brigman, Andrew McLardy, Jason Buha and Matt Jones share fourth at minus-three.
Full-field scores from the SAS Carolina Classic