Jim Seeley of Prince Georges Country Club finessed his way to six birdies on Hillendale's small, lightning-fast greens for a three-under-par 69 to take the first-round lead of the 54-hole Maryland Open.
Seeley, 37, in his seventh year as head pro, made 25-foot birdie putts on the 12th and 15th and saved par with an eight-footer at 17.
"The putt on 17 was the difference between holding the round together and letting it get away," Seeley said.
Seeley said he would have to keep away from a dreaded hook in order to win the $1,375 first prize.
"I hit a couple of ugly tee shots on 16 and 18," he said. "I start to hook when I get a little nervous and I speed up my tempo."
Jan Miller, a 26-year-old teaching pro from nearby Pine Ridge, was the early leader with 71, which included a birdie after a ball went out of bounds, hit a tree and rebounded back into play.
"I snap-hooked the tee shot and had another ball out to hit, but the offical said okay," Miller said. "I couldn't see the landing area, but the official said the ball went out of bounds, ricocheted off a tree and came back to the middle of the fairway."
Miller eagled the eighth hole when he pitched into the cup on his third shot.
Brian Staveley of Eisenhower, the hottest player int he Middle Atlantic PGA with four wins in five outings, made four birdies on the front nine and finished at 72.
Amateurs have won this tournament four of the last five yars, but pros occupy the top spots this time. Larry Rentz of Crofton was low amateur with 74.
Defending champion Gary Marlowe of Woodmont bogeyed three of the last holes on the front nine and shot 75.
"The greens are so fast you get intimidated," said Marlowe who three-putted twice.
Two-time winner Marty West of Columbia is back in the back at 76. Walter Romans of Baltimore Country Club, another two-time winner and the oldest player in the field at age 62, was in the chase with 73.
Hank Majewski had the day's weirdest round. The Hobbit's Glen head pro hit two shots out of bounds and took 10 on the sixth hole. He shot 48-33 - 81.