Believe it or not, there was a time when John Wray was apprehensive about playing in the Senior City Championship.
Its old hat now. Ive played in a lot of tournaments now, said Wray, who has won the Senior City three times – in 2002, 2010, 2012.
He may be on his way to a fourth this year, after a first-round 1-over 72 at Orchard Ridge Country Club, where he has won twice.
He is tied for the lead with 2001-champion Tom Wood and Mike Riecke, who is president of the Fort Wayne Senior Golf Association, which runs the two-day tournament.
I hit the ball well and the golf course is in good shape. You have to put the ball in a spot where if you dont make birdie you can still make a par, said Riecke, whose best finish came in 2007, when Bill Argus defeated him and Sam Till Jr. in a three-man playoff at Brookwood Golf Club.
Wray and Riecke started on the back nine at Orchard Ridge and shot 2-under 33s before faltering on the front nine at the 6,235-yard course. Wood started with a 35 on the back nine.
I feel like I kept myself in it. I was leaking oil, though, on the (second) nine, the 61-year-old Wray said.
On this course, youve got to try and hit it in the fairway and try to get it on the green. The greens here are tough. The greens are fast. There were lots of three-putts out there today.
Riecke, 56, agreed.
The greens are so fast and the putt has to be exact or its not going to go in, said Riecke, who bogeyed three straight holes after the turn, three-putting two of them.
You can see it by some of the scores. The 3- or 4-footers arent all that easy. Im tickled to be in the position Im in.
Wray had three birdies – on the par-4 5th, the par-5 12th and the par-3 17th. Riecke birdied the par-4 8th, 14th and 18th holes. Wood had two birdies – on the 5th and par-3 15th.
Barry Light is in fourth place at 4 over.
Till, a three-time champion, is in fifth at 5 over.
Ron Stevens, John Shumlas, Bob Itt, Jon Rondot and Gary Muncy had 77s, though Muncys came from the white tees to put him atop the 75-and-over age group.
Ive got to be more (consistent). I missed some iron shots. I hit some bad shots coming in. I need to straighten that out, said Wray, adding that Till may still be the person to watch. He shot a 76 and remember, he shot 65 at the state amateur and he can easily do that (in the final round). Hes that good.