Gutschewski Takes Opening Lead

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GLENVIEW, Ill. -- Scott Gutschewski fired a 6-under-par 65 Thursday to take a one-stroke lead after the opening round of the LaSalle Bank Open.
 
Chris Couch, who owns four Nationwide Tour wins including this year's Rheem Classic crown, posted a 5-under-par 66 to share second place. He was joined there by Robin Freeman and Ben Bates, who each own two tour wins.
 
Gutschewski, who earned his lone win at the 2003 Monterey Peninsula Classic, opened with a birdie at the first. However, he tripped to a bogey at the next.
 
The 28-year-old dropped in a birdie on the third and came right back with a birdie on No. 4. Gutschewski made it three straight as his birdie try on the par-4 sixth fell into the cup.
 
Gutschewski faltered to his second bogey on the seventh to fall back to minus-2. The Nebraska native atoned for that mistake with a birdie on the ninth at The Glen Club.
 
Around the turn, Gutschewski birdied 10 and 11 to climb to 5 under. He rolled in a birdie putt on the par-4 12th and made it five in a row as his birdie attempt on the 13th found the bottom of the cup.
 
Gutschewski's run was ended by a bogey on the 14th that dropped him to 6 under. He got that stroke back with a 50-foot birdie putt on the par-3 17th. He finished his round with a bogey on the par-5 closing hole however.
 
'I was getting it in play and making some putts today,' Gutschewski said. 'I hit the ball in the fairway a lot. Overall, I'm pleased with my start.'
 
Couch played the back nine first and carded two birdies and two bogies over his first seven holes. The University of Florida graduate ran off three straight birdies around the turn from the 18th.
 
The 31-year-old eagled the par-5 fifth to get to minus-5. Couch dropped a shot at the sixth, but closed with a birdie on the ninth to share second place.
 
Bates got his round going with a bogey on the 11th. He sprinkled three birdies over his next seven holes to make the turn at minus-2. The 2004 Reese's Cup Classic winner birdied three of the first five holes of the front nine to climb to 5 under. He bogeyed the sixth, but closed with a birdie on No. 9.
 
'This tournament has a great feel to it,' said Bates. 'I couldn't be happier with my start. I tend to do better on golf courses that have a little rough. I like courses that force you to hit the fairway and that is the case here.'
 
Freeman rolled in his first birdie at the third. He came back with a birdie on the fifth, but stumbled to a bogey on the par-4 seventh.
 
The 45-year-old posted back-to-back birdies from the 12th to get to minus-3. Freeman closed with birdies on the 15th and 17th to finish in a tie for second.
 
Mario Tiziani and Joel Kribel each posted rounds of 4-under-par 67. They share fifth place with Greg Chalmers, Scott Dunlap, Danny Ellis, Mathew Goggin, Aaron Barber, Chris Tidland, Ted Tryba, Grant Waite, Garrett Willis, Jim McGovern, Jon Mills, Deane Pappas and Brent Schwarzrock.
 
Defending champion Brendan Jones posted a 2-under-par 73 to begin his title defense.
 
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