Isenhour Closing in on Promotion


2006 BMW Charity Pro-Am at the CliffsASHEVILLE, N.C. -- Bryce Molder, Chris Stroud and two-time winner this season Tripp Isenhour are tied for the lead at 6 under par after Thursday's first round of the BMW Charity Pro-Am at The Cliffs.
The first three rounds of the event are spread over three courses - the par-72 The Cliffs Golf & Country Club (Cliffs Valley), the par-71 The Cliffs at Keowee Vineyards and the par-71 The Cliffs at Walnut Cove.
Isenhour posted a 66 at the Cliffs Valley Course, while Molder fired his 65 at Walnut Cove and Stroud shot his 65 at Keowee Vineyards.
Josh Broadaway, Steve Collins and Guy Boros each carded 5-under 66s at the Keowee Vineyards layout. Scott Ford and Matt Hendrix put together rounds of 5-under 67 at the Cliffs Valley course.
Isenhour began the round on the back nine and collected his first birdie at the par-5 13th, when his third stopped 5 feet from the hole. He dropped a shot at 15 when he three-putted, but made the turn under par thanks to a birdie at the 17th.
He caught fire on the second nine as he rolled in an 8-foot birdie putt at the third. Isenhour hit a rescue club to 6 feet to set up eagle at the par-5 sixth, then drained a 6-footer for birdie at seven.
Isenhour closed his round with a 4-foot birdie putt at the ninth.
If Isenhour can visit the winner's circle this week, or any other week this season, he will receive the 'battlefield promotion' to the PGA TOUR. Thanks to the amount of money he's already won this year, Isenhour will finish high enough on the final money list that he will graduate to the PGA TOUR next year. That gives Isenhour more freedom to play aggressively, which helped in Thursday's windy conditions.
'It's nice to have enough money that I already have my card wrapped up,' said Isenhour, who won this year's season-opening Panama Championship and the Livermore Valley Championship. 'I can play a little more aggressively in spots.'
Molder flew out of the gate with a 20-foot birdie putt at the first. He added birdies at both par-5s on the front side at Walnut Cove, six and eight, to make the turn at 3-under 33.
The former Georgia Tech standout birdied three in a row from the 12th, but fell to 5 under because of a bogey at the par-3 16th. Molder got the stroke back with a birdie at the next hole.
'I'm really pleased with my round and excited to be leading from this course,' said Molder. 'If I would have had just one low round, I wouldn't have thought it would come from this course.'
Stroud collected three birdies a piece on each of his nines.
Joseph Alfieri and Johnson Wagner shot 4-under-par 67s on Thursday. Joel Hendry, Jason Allred and Paul Gow posted 4-under 68s at the Cliffs Valley course to join the logjam at minus-4.
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