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Bob Friend Leads PA Senior Open

Bryan Kast

SEWICKLEY, Pa. – The first round of the 4th Annual Pennsylvania Senior Open has been completed, with Oakmont Country Club’s Bob Friend leading the field in both the overall Open and Professional divisions after finishing the day with a one-under-par 71. Friend was the only golfer to shoot under par on the day, carding birdies on holes one, three, and seven. Bogeys on holes five and 10 were small setbacks, but Friend powered through and made par on his final eight holes of the round.

“First of all, the golf course was in perfect condition,” said Friend. “I drove the ball accurately for the most part, with a few wayward tee shots, but it was just about keeping the ball in play. The greens are usually very fast here, and I just managed my game well. I made some birdies on the front nine, made a mistake on the 10th hole, but it’s very rare you go out and play a round of golf without any mistakes. I kept the ball below the hole for the most part and made some really good putts and short game shots.”

Friend got into a bit of trouble on the 18th, with his tee shot landing in heavy rough and his second shot careening straight into a bunker. With a good lie, Friend used a 60-degree wedge to land it right on his spot and roll it past the hole (but not too far past the hole) for a quality up-and-down to end his round. Friend now looks forward to tomorrow’s round and attempting to maintain his place atop the leaderboard.

“I used to practice a lot, play for a living, and hit a lot of balls, but I don’t play and practice anymore,” said Friend. “I maybe play once a week now but for me it’s about finding my target and just swinging away and trusting the ball’s going to go there. I’m going to do the same thing as today—try to put the ball in the fairway and then, as opportunities present themselves with some short irons, try to make some birdies.”

Brian Kelly (Titleist Fit Crew), the 2022 runner-up of the PA Senior Open, was one of just three competitors in the Professional division to finish with a one-over-par 73 and currently trails Friend by just two strokes. Kevin Shields, the man who defeated Kelly to win the 2022 tournament, currently sits tied for third place in that division (along with Allegheny Country Club’s John Aber and 2023 PA Open champ Kevin Kraft), who all finished the first round with a score of 74 (+2).

Carlisle Country Club’s Jeff Frazier is your Amateur division leader after the first round with an even-par 72 (the only golfer to manage that score), and he trails Friend by just a single stroke in the overall Open leaderboard. It was a rollercoaster ride for Frazier on the day, tallying five bogeys but erasing them with three birdies (on holes two, 11, and 14) and sinking an eagle putt on hole No. 3.

Other contenders chasing Frazier in the Amateur division include Montour Heights CC’s Paul Bangor and Sinking Valley CC’s Artie Fink, who both finished the day with one-over-par 73’s, as well as Heidelberg CC’s Chris Fieger Sr. (74, +2) and Jericho National CC’s Colin Sanderson (75, +3).

One additional standout moment of the day featured Allegheny Country Club’s Roy Vucinich, who notched his 14th career hole-in-one on hole No. 13.

Play continues tomorrow in the 4th Annual Pennsylvania Senior Open, sponsored by Dick’s Sporting Goods, at Sewickley Heights Golf Club’s 6,600-yard, par-72 course in Sewickley, Pa. The Senior Professional players are competing for a prize pool of $15,000.