BANGOR — Eric Egloff of Sandy Springs, Md., made the best of his opening round of the 44th Hollywood Slots Greater Bangor Open golf tournament Thursday, shooting a 3-under-par 66 at Bangor Municipal Golf Course.
That left him two strokes off the lead shared by Scott Hawley of Shrewsbury, Mass., and Matt Saglio of Clearwater, Fla., and tied with Shawn Warren of Windham. Kyle Gallo of Kensington, Conn., runner-up in the 1999 GBO, headed a group of five players at 67.
After today’s round, the field will be cut to the low 40 pros and ties for Saturday’s 18-hole finale. Due to their small number, all of the amateurs will advance.
Egloff’s more immediate concern Thursday, and that of more than half of the 97-player field, was handling the wet, windy weather that cropped up in the afternoon.
“When I saw the weather forecast, I thought I had hit it perfectly,” said John Hickson of Topsham, a Hampden native who won the 1997 GBO. “It was supposed to rain early, clear by 10 and be nice the rest of the day.
“It didn’t work out that way.”
Instead, the overnight rain stopped before the first groups teed off at 7 a.m., the sun came out and some of the early starters such as Hawley, Saglio and Warren took advantage.
Competitors in the afternoon were hit by a 10- to 15-minute squall that sent players, caddies and fans scrambling for rain gear or cover, if they could find either.
“Most of them are prepared for that, but I think some were surprised,” said Bangor Muni head pro Brian Enman, chuckling. “They won’t make that mistake [Friday].”
Having wind come up in the afternoon is not unusual, but having it gust as much as it did, especially during the rain, is unusual.
“I felt like I was playing in the British Open,” said Rob Jarvis, assistant pro at Bangor Muni and president of the GBO tournament committee.
After Enman found that lightning wasn’t part of the package, he went out to see how the course was taking the water.
“It came down so hard and so fast that I thought there might be standing water on some of the greens,” he said, “but when I went out and checked, there wasn’t any.”
Play continued, but there were some aftereffects.
“It was hard picking clubs,” said Egloff, who won the first GBO he played in in 1995. “With the ground a little bit wet, sometimes the ball squirts out. You don’t know what it’s doing.”
Egloff birdied No. 5 before the rain and played the front nine 1 under par, then birdied 13, 15 and 18 after the rain. He suffered his only bogey on the par-3 16th, when he picked the wrong club.
Hickson was bothered more by some missed putts and a couple of wayward chip shots, finishing with a 70.
“One under par I could live with, but one over? Not so much,” said Hickson.
Jesse Speirs of Bangor also hoped for a better start to his first GBO as a professional.
He nearly won it in 2002 as a 15-year-old amateur. He was low amateur last year and played well in Wednesday’s pro-am, but he struggled to a 74 Thursday afternoon.
“Wind is the biggest defense for the course,” said Enman. “If it’s not blowing, [the course is] there for the taking.”
Hawley, playing in the fourth group to tee off, birdied the first, fourth and fifth holes for 32 on the front, then birdied 13 and 15 on the back for another 32 and his 64 total. The two par-5s on the back are converted to par-4s for the GBO.
Saglio, playing in the group after Hawley, posted the best nine of the day, a 5-under-par 30, on the front, but didn’t make any on the back, parring every hole for 34 and his 64.
In the second threesome, Warren birdied 5 and 9 on the front and 13 and 15 on the back, but he bogeyed 16, also, to drop back to 66.
As for today, Egloff isn’t taking it for granted that conditions will be better when he tees off in the morning.
“It should be, but it doesn’t have to be,” said Egloff.
Then he turned to Jarvis and asked with a smile, “There’s no snow in the forecast is there?”