Closely packed field

VIENNA – Ian Patrick’s buddies better think twice about omitting him from their player draft.

On the eve of the 80th West Virginia Open, Patrick was not even selected – not even on his own accord- as a player to be reckoned with for this week’s tournament at Parkersburg Country Club.

Boy, did he prove them wrong. During Wednesday’s opening round, he registered six birdies and stood atop the leaderboard at 4-under par with four holes remaining before joining six-time West Virginia Open winner David Bradshaw in first place entering today’s second round at 3-under par 69.

“There were 10 of us watching a basketball game last night and nobody picked me,” Patrick said. “I didn’t even pick myself.”

Patrick has never finished in red numbers at either the Open or the West Virginia State Amateur, and never held the lead in either event. His best finish was a tie for 13th place at the 2011 State Am.

“I start on 10 (Thursday) and I missed a 10-footer for eagle, so I would like to get that eagle back,” Patrick said. “I’m going to play aggressive. I’m going to keep going at it.”

During one span, Patrick birdied three three straight holes. Twice he chipped in from off the green for birdie.

“My grandmother is going to wake up (Thursday morning), read the newspaper and she is not going to know what to do,” Patrick said. “She is my biggest fan and tells me my scores before I even shoot them sometimes.”

Bradshaw didn’t waste any time taking ahold of the leaderboard after recording birdies on two of his first three holes. Over the next 12 holes, he managed just one more birdie to go with 11 pars. His only bogey occurred at the 16th hole, which played as the toughest hole during the opening round.

The 16th hole, originally a par 5, was switched to a par 4 at 469 yards – the longest par 4 golfers have to battle at the Open. Regardless of the nearly 7,000 yards of fairway waiting to be tackled, Bradshaw figures there is a low number for the taking.

“There’s a 63 out here,” Bradshaw said. “But today I just played sloppy. Tee to green, I didn’t hit the ball particularly well. I played out of the rough on holes I should not have.

“(Thursday) I just have to play a tighter round. I hit a lot of bad iron shots today, I was sloppy off the tee and I wasn’t great around the green. I certainly didn’t do what I wanted to do.”

A total of seven golfers played under par, including four-time Open winner Scott Davis from Hurricane, Bob Friend (Pittsburgh) and Christopher McGinnis (Waynesburg, Pa.), who each finished at 2-under 70.

Davis made a nifty 18-foot putt for birdie at the 161-yard, ninth hole to complete his round.

“To get a fifth Open title would mean a lot to me as a senior golfer,” said Davis, who recently underwent shoulder surgery and took some time off from golf. “At my age, just to be in contention with these great young players would be great.

“We have a lot of golf left, though. But it is nice to start out well.”

Friend, who is the director of golf operations at Pikeview National Golf Club in Morgantown, missed out on a practice round with Tuesday’s deluge of rain and only had one round – that being a scramble format – under his belt at Parkersburg Country Club.

“Really, this is the first full round of golf I’ve had here, but it’s a very comfortable golf course for me.” said Friend, who parred seven of his first eight holes before recording birdies on four of the next seven holes. “The last nine holes, I was a little more comfortable.”

Also breaking par at 1-under 71 were Hurricane’s Sam O’Dell and and Bramwell’s John Ross.