Day one of the Tom Watson Challenge concluded on Friday June 13 at The Country Club of Loch Lloyd. The Tom Watson designed 18-hole championship course plays to 6,976 yards at the Watson championship tees. Weather was not a factor, though due to recent rains the course was played as lift, clean and place.
At the end of round one in the 54-hole tournament Preston Fleenor and Sean Dougherty led the field at five under par and tied for first place. Fleenor, a junior at Pembroke High School, received a special exemption into the annual tournament to determine the best golfer in Kansas City. He began the round with three pars before making a birdie on number four, giving it back on the next hole with a bogey. On the par 4 seventh hole, he chipped in for an eagle. He went on to birdie 9, 10, and 11 before making bogey on 13. Another birdie on 17 and a clutch putt on 18 left him with a posted 67. He later stated the lowest round he has ever shot was a 65 at the Mission Hills Country Club.
Golf professional Sean Dougherty, of Overland Park, Kan. is the Head Golf Professional at Milburn Country Club in Overland Park. He has been runner-up in five of the past Tom Watson Challenges. When asked if he thought there was a rivalry between Watson and himself he said, “I’d have to beat him for there to be a rivalry.
Dougherty began round much like Fleenor with three pars, a birdie on number 4, followed by a bogey on number 5. On seven, he chipped onto the green and was able to one-putt for a birdie. He began the back nine with three birdies, then two pars, and two more birdies. He made bogey on 17 when his tee shot found the hazard left of the fairway. As Fleenor did, he had to make a clutch second putt to stay at five under.
Golf Professional Chris Mabry of Prairie Village, Kan. and Clay Ederer a golf professional at Meadowbrook Golf and Country Club in Prairie Village finished in third place at three under par. Mabry posted birdies on 2, 10, and 13 for a bogey free round. Ederer made birdies on 6, 8, 10, 12, and 14, but made bogey on seven and nine to finish at three under par.
Golf legend and the tournaments namesake Tom Watson finished the day at two under par 70, to stand alone in fifth. Watson opened his round with a birdie on the par 4 first hole. He made par on the next three holes before giving back the birdie with a bogey on number 6. He finished the front nine with three pars and began the back with a par on 10. The 11th, a par 3 of 195 yards, brought his third birdie of the day, taking him back to 2 under par. On 14, he made bogey, returning to one under par, and then made birdie on 15 and three pars to finish the round at two under par.
The Tom Watson Challenge continues on Saturday morning, with play beginning at 7:30 a.m.