Wilk Leads Monterey Peninsula Classic


Vic Wilk posted a 4-under-par 68 for the lead in Thursday's opening round of the Buy.Com Monterey Classic at Bayonet Golf Course. Chad Campbell, Brenden Pappas and Mike Heinen each finished the day one shot back with 69s.
Wilk climbed atop the leaderboard despite a shaky start. The 41-year-old Los Angeles native birdied the first hole but gave two strokes back and dropped over par with a double-bogey six at the par-four second.
He righted his round with birdies at holes seven and nine, then eagled the par-five 10th after knocking a five-wood to within a foot. A birdie at the 16th lifted him clear of the field.
The Bayonet Golf Course, which ranked as the third toughest on the Buy.com Tour last season, played to a scoring average of 75.048 Thursday with only 18 players in the field of 152 breaking par.
'You feel like you are at the U.S. Open,' said Wilk. 'You just try to stay alive. It gives you goose bumps staring down some of these fairways. There was a little breeze and this baby needs no help.'
After missing the cut in 11 of his first 17 starts of the season, Wilk has survived to play on the weekend in each of his last five events. Currently 64th on the Buy.com Tour money list, he will need more than the $81,000 first prize this week to jump into the top-15 in season earnings.
The top 15 players on the 2001 money list at the end of the season will earn exemptions onto the 2002 PGA Tour.
Campbell, who was bogey-free in round one, has no such concerns. He is second on the money list with wins at the Richmond Open and Permian Basin Open, and also finished runner-up at the season-opening Florida Classic.
One more victory and Campbell will get to ascend to the PGA Tour under the Buy.com Tour's 'battlefield promotion' stipulation, which allows a player who wins three times in a single season to immediately move up to the big leagues.
This year, Heath Slocum became only the second player in tour history to earn the promotion after he posted a trio of victories by early August. Chris Smith became the first in 1997.
Pappas is currently 20th in 2001 earnings and could make it into the top-15 with a high finish this week.
Tim Clark, Charley Hoffman, Jamie Rogers and Jason Caron share fifth place at two-under-par 70.
Thursday's first round was suspended due to darkness with just three players left on the course. Play will resume Friday at 11:00 a.m. (et).