RIDGEDALE, Mo. — The little course came up big. And played tough.
Five of the six best scores during the opening round of the Champions Tour Legends of Golf on Friday were all posted at Buffalo Ridge, a 6,714-yard, par-70 layout.
On the flip side, seven of the eight highest scores were turned in at Top of the Rock, a nine-hole, par-3 course that measures just over 2,800 yards — and less than 5,700 yards when you play 18 holes.
The tournament features two divisions: The Champions, for players 50 and older, and the Legends, for players 65 and older. Best ball is played at Buffalo Ridge, a modified scramble (for 9 holes) and best ball (for 9 holes) format at Top of the Rock.
The two-man teams were split between the two courses, and it was the Champions team (and former Ohio State golf teammates) of John Cook and Joey Sindelar who set the pace with a splendid 10-under 60 at Buffalo Ridge.
“John was in his true form,” Sindelar says. “I don’t think he made a birdie until the back nine, and then he made like four. So I had the birdies on the front and he had a bunch of them on the back.
“We only kind of messed around and almost got in trouble once on the back nine. So 10 birdies and no bogeys was pretty darn stress free.”
The teams of Jay Don Blake-David Frost and John Huston-Mark Brooks finished one shot back, while the teams of Tom Pernice Jr.-Bob Tway and Corey Pavin Duffy Waldorf are tied for third at 62.
The low round of the day in the Legends Division was a 7-under 47 turned in at Top of the Rock by the duo of Sandy Lyle-Ian Woosnam.
“I think we ham-and-egged it pretty good today,” says Woosnam, whose team had eight birdies and one bogey in its first round. “When I made a mistake, Sandy was there. When Sandy made a mistake, I was there.”
The team of Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player had the biggest following of the day, which was hampered by a one-hour rain delay in the morning. Even though they are eligible to compete in the Legends Division, they chose to compete in the Champions and shot 3-under at Top of the Rock.
“When you don’t compete, you have a chance to really shoot some bad scores,” Nicklaus says. “We didn’t do that. What we did is we had a decent score. When one was in trouble, we got it up and down all right.
“But we didn’t make enough birdies. Now, we have one round under our belt, let’s just make a few more birdies.”
The 54-hole event continues Saturday and concludes Sunday. The teams will “flip” today and those who played Buffalo Ridge will be at Top of the Rock and vice versa.