SANDY For David Branshaw, it was all about the birds and the bees in the opening round of the Utah Championship golf tournament Thursday at Willow Creek Country Club.
Branshaw posted nine birdies on the first day and overcame a bee sting on his second hole to grab the opening-round lead over 155 other golfers in the PGA Nationwide Tour event.
The 39-year-old New York native takes a one-shot lead into today's second round over tour rookie Brendon Todd and current PGA Tour player Kyle Thompson, who each shot 64. Four more players Colt Knost, Bubba Dickerson, Dave Schultz and Marc Leishman are another shot back at 65.
Former BYU standout Bobby Clampett and Farmington's Daniel Summerhays head a group of nine golfers at 66.
Branshaw was a bit worried when he got the bee sting because he got a severe swelling the last time he was stung. If that happened again, he likely couldn't finish his round, but things turned out fine.
"I guess the bee didn't sting me long enough," Branshaw said afterward as he examined the sting at the base of the middle finger of his right hand.
Until Branshaw came in with his sparkling or should we say, stinging, 63 the big story of the day was the "Four Aces."
In a two-hour span from late morning to early afternoon, four golfers made holes-in-one at Willow Creek, setting a Nationwide Tour record for aces in one round and tying a PGA Tour record, set at the 1989 U.S. Open.
Peter Tomasulo started off the fun with an ace at the 203-yard No. 2 hole, his 11th hole of the day, using a 7-iron. Two groups later, Chris Stroud aced the same hole with a 6-iron.
Next it was Jonathan Fricke's turn at the 176-yard No. 5 hole with a 7-iron. Not too long after that, Brian Stuard made a hole-in-one at the 191-yard No. 7 hole using a 7-iron.
This all happened by about the time Branshaw was playing No. 2. He said he saw about half a dozen bees swarming around and suddenly one landed on his finger and stung him. About 10 minutes later, paramedics came to check him out, but according to Branshaw, they told him, "If you're not dead yet, you're OK."
Branshaw was 1-under at the time and added birdies at Nos. 3 and 4, on a chip-in from 15 feet, and another at No. 6 before making his only bogey of the day at No. 9 with a three-putt.
On the back side, he made consecutive birdies at Nos. 12, 13 and 14 and added two more at Nos. 16 and 17.
Branshaw couldn't pinpoint anything spectacular about his round, saying, "It was just a really solid round,"
Todd, a 23-year-old rookie who graduated from the University of Georgia last year, appeared to be on his way to the lead with perhaps a 61. He had started off on fire, going 6-under through five holes, before bogeying the ninth for a 30.
Then on the back nine, he heated up again with four birdies on the first five holes and with three holes left was 9-under par. All he needed was two pars and a birdie at the par-5 17th to tie the course record of 61. Instead he bogeyed Nos. 16 and 18 and parred 17 to finish with a 64.
Thompson, a graduate of South Carolina, finished 14th on the Nationwide Tour money list last year, earning himself a spot on this year's PGA Tour. However he hasn't played too well, making six cuts in 19 tournaments and earning $109,930. He was able to come back to the Nationwide Tour this week because he didn't qualify for the FedEx Cup. His 64, which included an eagle at No. 1, came in the morning.
Among the other local golfers, West Point's Clay Ogden is in a group of 21 players at 68, while Draper's Mark Owen shot an even-par 71.Former PGA Tour regulars Jay Don Blake of St. George and Keith Clearwater of Orem both shot 72s and will need to have good rounds to make the cut. Last year's cut came at 3-under 139.
Utah Championship Leaderboard
David Branshaw ... 63
Kyle Thompson ... 64
Brendon Todd ... 64
Colt Knost ... 65
Bubba Dickerson ... 65
Dave Schultz ... 65
Marc Leishman ... 65
Bobby Clampett ... 66
Daniel Summerhays ... 66
Clay Ogden ... 68
Mark Owen ... 71
Keith Clearwater ... 72
Jay Don Blake ... 72
Chris Moody ... 74
Boyd Summerhays ... 75