(Interview with 18-hole leader Mason Kidwell)
ROANOKE, W.Va. — Shepherd University and Washington High School graduate Mason Kidwell birdied seven holes in his opening round to shoot 67 (5-under) and pace the field in the 89th West Virginia Open at Stonewall Resort.
Kidwell played the back nine first and recovered well after a double bogey on the 11th hole. He played bogey-free golf the rest of the way. Kidwell leads Wheeling’s Thadd Obecny by a single stroke.
Former champions David Bradshaw and Christian Brand (-3) are two strokes off the lead entering Thursday’s second round.
“I had some nice, good putts roll in. Some putts that I just wanted to lag up there, they ended up falling in,” Kidwell said.
“A lot of these holes out here are par holes. You want to get up there and just have a good putt for birdie. I took advantage of a lot of shots that I had low wedges on. I was able to get up and down from 130 yards and in.”
Kidwell is a native of Charles Town. He qualified for the 2022 NCAA Atlantic/East Regional as an individual last month and he will return to Shepherd to start studies towards a masters degree in the fall.
(Thadd Obecny interview)
“I definitely have been confident in my game. As soon as you get some putts rolling in, you can get some good scores.
“I am going to use the same notes I took today. I took a lot of mental notes out there going around the course. Hopefully, I’ll hit some good shots and make some putts again.”
Obecny posted the best round from golfers teeing off in the afternoon wave. He had eight birdies, which was the most in the 132-player field. Obecny, a Wheeling Park graduate and the head coach at West Liberty, made five birdies in a six-hole stretch on his front nine.
“I did putt very well. I made a couple long putts early, which obviously helps your confidence. I did miss a short one on the first hole, but at Stonewall you are going to make bogeys. That’s kind of how it is. I’ve got to keep hitting it well. I hit a lot of fairways and put the ball in play a good bit,” Obecny said.
“The goal today was to shoot something in the red (under par). It happened to be 4-under. But I’ve got to keep it going. There’s a lot of players at the top that aren’t going to give up.
Bradshaw and Brand played in the same group and both golfers put four birdies on the respective cards. Bradshaw is seeking his 13th Open championship, while Brand won back-to-back titles in 2014 and 2015.
Morgantown’s Cory Dillinger was one of the first golfers on the course and he topped the scoreboard early in the round. Dillinger shot 2-under and he stands tied for fifth place with Elkview’s Tyler Shamblin.
Wheeling Park grad & West Liberty head coach Thadd Obecny (-4) birdies #18 to pull within a shot of the lead during Rd. 1 of the West Virginia Open. pic.twitter.com/mebnAVHMlB
— Joe Brocato (@joebrowvm) June 22, 2022
Wheeling’s Bryan Myers and Wingate University golfer Nick Fleming also finished in red figures at 1-under. They are tied for seventh. Marshall University golfer Christian Boyd, Weirton’s Howie Peterson, Charles Town’s Jared Shank, Buckhannon’s Christian McKisic and Clayton Thomas all shot even par. WVU’s Todd Duncan is tied for 23rd place.
Stonewall Resort is hosting the West Virginia Open for the first time. The field will be cut to the low 60 golfers and ties after Thursday’s second round. The projected cut stands at 7-over.
The complete leaderboard and tee times for Thursday’s second round can be found here.