SANDY — Since the Web.com Tour’s Utah Championship moved to Willow Creek Country Club in 1999, players have historically scored in droves, and that was no different in the opening round of this year's tournament Thursday.
Brian Prouty and B.J. Staten both fired 8-under-par 63s to take the early lead after 18 holes, but four players trail by only one stroke and eight others hover at 6-under.
Prouty and Staten are in position to continue the two-year trend of first-round leaders or co-leaders eventually capturing the title, following J.J. Killeen and Doug LaBelle in 2011 and 2012, respectively.
Prouty’s round was highlighted by two eagles, first on the par-5 No. 1 and then again on the par-5 No. 12. Apart from a setback at No. 2, Prouty shot a 3-under 32 on the front and a 5-under 31 on the back with five combined birdies.
Staten delivered a low 5-under 30 on the front with five birdies, including a three-hole stretch between No. 3 and 5.
Before Prouty and Staten penciled in late scores, Kevin Foley was the early leader at 7-under after acing the par-3 No. 5. It was the 24th hole-in-one at the Utah Championship, the most in any Web.com Tour tournament. Coming into Thursday’s first round, Foley had missed 10 of 11 cuts after winning the opening event of the season.
Derek Fathauer inked a comfortable 7-under 64. He currently rests at 150 on the money list and with only seven events remaining, a high finish is increasingly crucial down the stretch.
Andrew Loupe sunk seven birdies and an eagle, but two double bogies, including missing a makeable uphill 7-foot bogey putt on No. 18, tarnished an overall solid round. With an early-morning tee time Friday, Loupe should benefit from ideal scoring weather conditions
At 5-under, Edward Loar is in position to contend for his second victory of the year. He buried birdies on holes 2, 4, 5 and 7 to finish with a 31 on the front. Considering how his putter has been working this season — helping him top virtually every scoring statistic — he could be the front-runner heading into the weekend.
Michael Putnam, the only two-time winner on the Web.com Tour this season, finished at 3-under. He struggled early and often with his putter.
Action gets underway Friday at 7 a.m.
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