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Grace Leads after Day One of Super Senior Amateur

GEORGETOWN – John Grace of Fort Worth leads a crowded leaderboard after the first round of the Texas Super Senior Amateur at White Wing Golf Club. The 2012 Texas Golf Hall of Fame inductee  shot a 2-under-par 70 to take a one-stroke lead in the 54-hole championship for seniors ages 65 and older.

Gary Kirwan sits alone in second place after shooting a 1-under 71. Mickey Jones and Wayne Wright are tied for third at even-par 72;  Tom Melcher rounds out the top five at 1-over 73.

A quiet but fiery competitor, Grace is as close to amateur golf royalty as you can get in Texas. In addition to his 40-plus USGA Championships pedigree, he’s won every statewide championship at least once.

Grace won the 1994 Texas Amateur at Mira Vista Country Club; he took the Texas Mid-Amateur title four years straight (1991-94), and won the inaugural Texas Super Senior in 2015. He started strong Friday with a birdie on the par-5 second hole, but gave a stroke back on the par-4 sixth hole. Then he caught fire and dropped birdies on four of his next five holes to get to 4-under after 12 holes. After the momentum wore off, he dropped two strokes over his final six holes to finish with his 70.

Gary Kirwan attributed his score to success on the greens today.

“It was a good putting round and a decent ball-striking round,” Kirwan said. “I stayed out of trouble and I finally made some putts on the back nine.”

Kirwan said the course forces you to drive the ball well to stay in contention. Other than one errant tee shot he was able to drive it well enough to stay near the top of the leaderboard. He double-bogeyed No. 7, but three birdies on the back nine took him into the clubhouse with a 71. He said he’s ready to get back out tomorrow and try to build on his first round success.

In the Legends Division for competitors ages 75 and older, Don Grider took advantage of playing on his home course. His 1-under 71 leads Mike Rice, the 2005 U.S. Senior Amateur champion, by six strokes.

Grider is the defending Legends Division champion and holds the course record of 62 at White Wing. He  said being the defending champion “without a doubt” gives a little extra motivation to play well this weekend. He said he wasn’t feeling 100 percent, but that didn’t hold him back. “I’ve been under the weather,” Grider said. “And I think it really made me concentrate more.”

Grider started his round on No. 10 and made the turn at 2-under. Back-to-back bogeys on Nos. 3 and 4 brought him back to even-par, but he birdied the fifth hole to finish at 1-under. He admitted to having a little luck in saving par on No. 9 help with his score though.

“I topped it into the creek, and it bounced back out,” Grider said with a chuckle.

Both Grider and Kirwan referenced strong putting in round one and they will hope to continue that trend when round two tees off Saturday at 8 a.m. Click here for the full leaderboard and more information.