Wagner Leads Soggy Gila River


CHANDLER, Ariz. -- Johnson Wagner fired an 8-under-par 64 Thursday before rain forced the suspension of the first round of the Gila River Golf Classic. Wagner owns a one-stroke lead over Tripp Isenhour and Ben Bates.
Play was suspended at 8:15 PM ET when a thunderstorm rolled into the area. There were 33 players remaining on the course when play was halted. Those players will return to the course at 10:00 AM to complete their rounds, with the second round beginning as scheduled at 9:45 AM.
Ken Duke, John Elliott and Jeff Gove share this place after each posting rounds of 6-under-par 66.
Wagner began his round on the Cattail Course at Whirlwind Golf Club by sinking a 15-foot birdie putt at the 10th. He two-putted for birdie on the par-5 12th and followed by dropping a sand-wedge within 12 feet to set up birdie on No. 13.
He made it three in a row when he rolled in a 30-foot birdie try at the 14th to move to 4 under. Wagner stumbled to a three-putt bogey at the 16th but came right back to birdie the next hole.
On the front side, Wagner converted a seven-footer for birdie on the first to get to 5 under. He stuck an 8-iron within eight feet for birdie at the third before dropping his second shot within two feet of the cup for birdie at the fifth.
Wagner capped his stellar round by making a six-footer for birdie at the seventh.
'This is the first round all year that I've had where I putted well,' said Wagner, whose best finish this year is an 11th place showing at the Chattanooga Classic. 'I love these greens. They are perfect.'
Bates also began on the back nine where he two-putted for birdie on the 12th to open his round. He later two-putted the par-5 17th and followed with another birdie on the 18th.
On the front side, he got up-and-down for birdie on the par-5 second before bogeying the par-4 fourth. He drained back-to-back six-foot birdie putts on Nos. 6 and 7 to move to 5 under.
Bates made it three in a row by sinking a five-footer on the eighth and closed out his round by draining a 20-foot birdie putt on the ninth for a share of second place.
'I really did everything good today. I drove it well all day,' said Bates. 'You've got to play this course from the fairway, if you hit it in the rough then you've got issues.'
Isenhour had a slow start to his round. Other than his eight-foot birdie putt on the second, he parred nine of his first 10 holes. He got rolling with a six-foot birdie putt in No. 11.
He followed that with a two-putt birdie putt on the 12th. He rolled in a 25-foot birdie try on the 14th to get to minus-4.
Isenhour, the 2003 winner at the Charity Pro-Am at The Cliffs, followed with a hole-in-one at the 15th when he drained a 9-iron from the tee at the 149-yard hole. He tied for second when he sank a 15-foot birdie putt on the 17th.
Lucas Glover and Tjaart van der Walt head a group of players at 5-under-par 67. That duo is joined by James Oh, Scott Sterling, Brad Fabel, Bob Heintz, Kevin Johnson, Brian Wilson and Guy Boros at minus-5.
Related Links:
  • Full-field scores from the Gila River Open
  • Full coverage - Gila River Open