BANGOR, Maine — Former Marquette University three-time All America Mike Van Sickle recorded two eagles and five birdies to set a course-record 60 at Bangor Municipal Golf Course during the first round of the 54-hole Greater Bangor Open Thursday.
The previous course record of 61 was set by Mike Welch of Quincy, Massachusetts, during the GBO in 2007 and duplicated by Joe Alvarez of Hampden in the Bangor Classic in 2011.
Van Sickle’s 9-under par score leads Jesse Larson of Rutland, Vermont, by two strokes and David Chung of Fayetteville, North Carolina, by three.
Larson was the runnerup to Eric Steger last year.
The 27-year-old Van Sickle, who is from the Pittsburgh suburb of Wexford, Pennsylvania, notched his first eagle on the 348-yard fifth hole, a par 4, and his second eagle on the 318-yard 13th hole, also a par four. He finished with a 31 on the front nine and a 29 on the back nine.
Four of his five birdies came on par-4 holes: Nos. 1, 9, 10 and 18 and the other was on the par-3 16th.
He parred the 11 other holes.
Van Sickle had captured the long drive competition with a drive of 353 yards on Wednesday and his driving was instrumental in Thursday’s round.
“I drove it great today,” said Van Sickle, who recorded a 60 in a previous tourney. “I won the long drive competition and hit a couple more of those drives today and they put me in great position. I hit one 50 yards from the pin on number one, had a good pitch and picked up a birdie to start the day.
“I drove [the green] on No. 5 and sank a 20-footer for eagle. I had another great drive on 13 to within 10 feet to make eagle there,” said Van Sickle. “The driver and putter were both working today and I hit a couple good 9-irons on 16 and 18 and birdied those two holes.”
Not only was Van Sickle making his GBO debut, he hadn’t been to Maine until Wednesday.
He was accompanied by his father, Gary, who shot a three-over-par 72 as an amateur.
“I thought it would be fun to have my dad with me. It makes for a special trip,” said Van Sickle.
“I grew up in Milford, Connecticut and moved to Wexford when I was 12 so I was looking for any excuse to get back to New England,” said Van Sickle. “I checked on a website for tournaments in New England and they had this one, the Maine Open and the New Hampshire Open all within eight days. Then I’ll play the Rhode Island Open and the Pennsylvania Open on my way home.”
Van Sickle said one of his strategies was to “try to get the speeds right on my putts.
“It was OK to leave a couple short. But you couldn’t afford to hit them three or four feet past the cup. The greens can be tricky at times,” said Van Sickle, who graduated with a degree in broadcast communications from Marquette, where his mother, Betsy, had formerly been the sports information director.
Van Sickle, who will go to qualifying school to try to earn a spot on the Web.com tour this fall, said he certainly enjoyed his first round at the Bangor Municipal Golf Course.
“It’s a real fun course. And I’m looking forward to the (Thursday night) lobster bake,” said Van Sickle, who will tee off at 7:09 Friday morning.