Del Ponchock has experienced great success in Maryland. Yesterday, however, wasn't one of his better days.
Ponchock, who grew up in Bowie and was an all-American golfer at the University of Maryland, shot a 7-over-par 78 in the first round of the Booz Allen Classic.
"It started out well; then it turned rough," Ponchock said. "Actually, I didn't feel like I hit the ball all that bad. . . . I hit it well for the first six, seven holes. I just missed too many putts today."
Ponchock, the 1992 Maryland Open winner, was 1 under after five holes after making birdies on Nos. 13 and 14. He ran into trouble on the front nine, collecting double bogeys on Nos. 6 and 9. Ponchock, who is playing the event on a sponsor's exemption, had expected to score better in his fourth appearance in this event. He also competed in 1993, 1996 and 2001.
After graduating from Maryland in 1994, Ponchock turned professional. It wasn't long before he gave up his playing career to teach golf. When his schedule allowed, he began playing tournaments again. This year, he stopped teaching to devote more time to playing. Last week, he won an event on the Golden Bear Tour -- his second victory on that tour.
Although he didn't score as well yesterday as he would have liked, Ponchock said he still feels good about his game.
"When you miss four or five five-footers in a row, that just takes its toll on you," Ponchock said. "You've got to press a little bit then and try to make some birdies coming in. That's when it can go south quick, and it did."
Foreigners on the Rise
A new feature at the Booz Allen Classic is the international archway that greets fans as they enter TPC at Avenel. Its presence is appropriate given the increasing number of foreign-born players -- particularly Australians -- competing on the PGA Tour. Since 1998, the number of international players on tour has grown from 27 players representing 12 countries to 71 players representing 22 countries.
No country sends more golfers to the tour than Australia, which has 19 PGA Tour members.
"The more guys that get over here, I think, the more guys also realize that it's possible to do it," said Steve Allan, one of nine Australians playing at Avenel. "In the past especially, there was a thought that the PGA Tour was too tough, that it was hard to get on. I think slowly after time people have realized that's not necessarily the case."
The influx of Australians likely won't end anytime soon. Six of the top 20 money winners on the Nationwide Tour are Australians, including leader Brendan Jones.
Anyone following the threesome of Aaron Baddeley, Olin Browne and Esteban Toledo saw plenty of good golf. Not one member of the trio had a bogey during the round. Baddeley had two birdies and an eagle for 67. Browne's seven birdies lifted him into a tie for second place with Rich Beem at 64. Toledo made two birdies for 69. . . .
In what may go down as the biggest turnaround between two rounds, Billy Mayfair shot a 66 yesterday at the Booz Allen Classic after finishing with an 89 on the final day of the U.S. Open.
New Will Call Location
Will Call has moved from its usual location. It now is located at the entrance to general public parking off Oaklyn Drive, approximately 500 yards past the TPC at Avenel entrance.