Jim Fitzgerald, one of the area's most consistent golfers, shot a two-under-par 70 today to take a one-stroke lead into the second round of the 54-hole Middle Atlantic PGA championship at Hobbit's Glen.
Fitzgerald, a 26-year-old assistant at Columbia Country Club, birdied both par-5 holes on the front side and the short downhill sixth hole to make the turn in 34.
After a bogey at No. 10, Fitzgerald made seven pars, missing a short birdie putt at 17. Then he almost made a hole in one on the 217-yard 18th, finishing with his fourth birdie.
Art Scott of Prince Georges Country Club and Jay Hardwick of Giles Country Club in Pearisburg, Va., near Blacksburg, are a stroke back in the $10,000 tournament, which will pay $1,350 to the winner.
Scott, an assistant who ranks fourth among the MAPGA money-earners, said the 7,240-yard course was tougher than usual because of the rain Sunday.
After a bogey on No. 1, Scott birdied the third from six feet and No. 4 from 10 feet to get his round going.
"I felt a lot better after those back-to-back birdies," he said. "But the key was the birdie on 13. That's a tough hole (a tight 463-yard, par-4). I hit a driver and a four-wood, which rolled to within 15 feet."
Scott hit a six-iron three feet from the cup on the par-3 15th for another birdie and then finished with flourish, knocking in about a 40-footer on the last hole for his fifth birdie.
"The pin was back in the corner, so I just tried to hit a four-iron in the middle of the green," Scott said. "Then I just wanted to get the first putt close and it went in.
"The course really was playing long," Scott said. "I'm going to have to get my two-iron reshafted before tomorrow. I used it all day long."
Hardwick, a head pro who officiates basketball in the Metro Conference in the winter, birdied the first two holes and missed a very makeable birdie putt on No. 4. However, he three-putted No. 5 and missed a short par putt at No. 7 to finish even par on the front.
After bogeys at 10 and 12, Hardwick got going again. He birdied 13 with a two-iron shot 15 feet from the pin and 14 with a wedge within eight feet. At the par-5 17th, he rolled in a 12-footer from above the hole to go one under, then parred 18.
"I feel a lot stronger since I started officiating," Hardwick said. "It's great conditioning for my legs. I feel I'm hitting the ball farther now."
Mike Wynn of Evergreen, Wheeler Stewart of Indian Spring, Fred Gibson of Washingtonian and Bruce Lehnhard of Lake of the Woods are tied at 72. Defending champion Woody FitzHugh had 76.
Brian Staveley of Bowie and Roger Simpkins of Woodmont, ranked two and three on the MAPGA money list, are ineligible for the tournament because they have not completed all the requirements for full membership in the PGA.