Opening 63 Delivers Day One Lead for Chas Narramore at Verdict Ridge Open

Chas Narramore (Photo-Knoxville News Sentinel)

By Stewart Moore

Denver, N.C. – After a 10-year hiatus from tournament play, the eGolf Gateway Tour returned to Verdict Ridge Golf & Country Club on Wednesday for the first round of the Verdict Ridge Open.

Making just his second career start on the eGolf Gateway Tour, Chas Narramore of Kingston, Tenn. blistered the 1998 Ed Schweitzer design to the tune of nine birdies and nine pars en route to a 9-under 63 – good for a one-shot lead through 18 holes of the 54-hole event.

Narramore, whose only prior start on tour came in a west coast series event earlier this year, began his day on the front nine at Verdict Ridge with two early pars before going on a torrid stretch of five birdies in seven holes to turn in 31.

“I had a good two-putt there on No. 2 and that got things going from there,” said Narramore, who birdied Nos. 3, 4, 6, 7 and 9. “I just started hitting good shots and giving myself chances.”

The 5-under-par tally on his outward nine morphed further into the red on the course’s back nine after an unlikely 20-foot birdie putt on the par-3 11th found the bottom of the cup for a sixth birdie on the day.

Narramore missed a birdie try on the par-4 12th, but got one back two holes later with a solid three on the par-4 14th.

“After I missed that putt on 12, I just told myself, ‘Hey, you stole one back there on 11, so let’s keep going,’” he said.

The former Middle Tennessee State golfer hit his second shot on the par-5 16th to 15 feet for a docile two-putt birdie, then stuck a wedge on the 18th to one foot for a kick-in birdie – his ninth of the day.

Chase ParkerChase Parker

The 9-under 63 left Narramore one shot shy of the club’s course record of 10-under 62, shared by Joey Maxon and Justin Hicks, with Hicks posting his on his way to winning the 2005 Verdict Ridge Open.

“I played well all day. I ended up hitting 18 greens and 14 fairways, so that made the round a lot easier,” Narramore said. “If you hit the tee ball good, then you’re going to have several wedges in your hand. It’s get-able in that position.”

The 28-year-old entered 2015 with conditional status on the Tour following a T79 finish at Q-School last December.

Narramore’s status number has delivered three starts, but also three missed cuts, as he has split time between chasing Monday qualifiers and playing on various mini-tours in the southeast.

“I feel like my year is turning around a bit. If you get some putts to fall, it’s just a matter of time before you get things going,” he said. “I had a good session with my coach (Brad Rose) before I left for this event, so I felt good coming in.”

In Verdict Ridge, Narramore faces one of the more visually intimidating courses of the year, but also one that allows for red numbers galore if played correctly, as evidenced by the 33 rounds of 69 or better on Wednesday.

“You can go deep and you can go the opposite way too. There are quirky tee shots to where if you miss it, you can be out of bounds or in the water in a hurry,” he said. “If you keep it in front of you and play smart, you can get it around pretty good.”

Chase Parker of Augusta, Ga. is in solo-second place after posting an 8-under 64 in the day’s opening threesome off of No. 10 tee.

Bo AndrewsBo Andrews

The former University of Kentucky golfer birdied four of his opening nine holes to turn in 4-under 32 before birdieing No. 1, eagling No. 4 and birdieing No. 5 to reach 8-under on the round.

Parker’s early tear stalled with a bogey on the par-5 sixth, but he was able to close with a birdie on the scenic par-4 ninth to round out another 4-under 32 for a career-best 64.

The 8-under-par effort continued a breakout year for Parker, who missed the cut in the season-opening Palmetto Hall Championship, but has since notched nine top-25 finishes in 10 starts – including a career-best T6 at last month’s Mimosa Hills Open.

Bo Andrews of Raleigh, N.C. is alone in third place after opening his week with a 6-under 66.

Like Parker, Andrews has had his best year as a pro in 2015, recording three top-10 finishes in his last four starts, including a career-best, runner-up effort at the Spring Creek Classic in June.

The former Georgia Tech star played bogey-free golf on Wednesday, collecting three birdies in his opening 14 holes before rallying late with an eagle-birdie-par finish for his 66.

Seven players are tied for fourth after matching rounds of 5-under 67, including six-time tour winner and 2014 leading money winner Ryan Nelson of Charleston, S.C., five-time tour winner T.J. Howe of Osceola, Pa. and former Georgia Tech star J.T. Griffin of Wilson, N.C.

Second-round play in the Verdict Ridge Open will begin at 8:00 AM on Thursday morning, with players competing in threesomes off of Nos. 1 and 10 tees. Following the completion of 36 holes, the field will be cut to the low 35 percent and ties for Friday’s final round. The tournament is open to the public and free of charge.