By Jim Henry
Globe Sports Editor
It was the worst of times, then the best of times.
The Twin Hills Invitational began Friday morning in a steady drizzle that developed into a downpour shortly before noon. But after a wait of more than two hours, play resumed and the weather continued to improve throughout the afternoon.
“I’m jealous of the guys who teed off in the afternoon,” said Todd Doss, whose 73 was one of the best scores in the morning wave of players. “Not a bit of wind, perfect conditions, greens are soft. It’s like you lose the tournament on your tee time. And (Saturday) they come back and play in the morning ... no wind, perfect weather. They are going to get the best of both worlds. And when we tee off in the afternoon, it probably will be windy.
“But that’s golf.”
Barrett Lais, a Joplin High School graduate and the assistant men’s golf coach for the Arkansas Razorbacks, cashed in on the afternoon weather and carded a 3-under-par 69 to earn the first-round lead.
Andrew Maier and Scott Martin also broke par with 71s, and Evan Wood shot 72. Two-time defending champion Kyle Long and Evan Griffith joined Doss with 73s.
In the senior division for players 50 and older, Jeff Schilling grabbed the lead with 72, one shot ahead of Mike Cutshall and Tom Hess. Bob McKay, David Klahr and Gil Parkinson are tied at 74.
The players were more than happy to come off the course when play was stopped.
“Brutal,” said Doss, who played in the final group of the morning wave. “It started off drizzly, and I felt OK, we can live with this. It progressively got harder and harder ... by the time we finished (No. 8), we were all just sopping wet. Everything was wet. You couldn’t get your hands dry any more, your towels were all wet. ... By the time we got to 10, it was like all right, you have to call this.”
“The playing conditions are always the luck of the draw, but the morning (wave) got the bad draw,” Twin Hills professional Doug Adams said. “The majority of people felt — and I kind of had a little inkling — that maybe we wouldn’t get this in today and we were going to have a washout. I probably earlier in my career would have washed it out, but knowing over time that Mother Nature does well ... and she did.
“This afternoon we had excellent conditions. Other than our traps ... some of them got washed down from the heavy downpour, the course was superb. The greens were a little slow, but all in all the course was good. ... Our superintendent (Kirk Youngblood) did a great job getting it ready.”
Lais was 1-over-par through six holes but then ran off four consecutive birdies — ironically, about the same time the rain stopped for good. He chipped close for birdie on the par-5 seventh hole, then hit a 7-iron within two feet for birdie on the par-3 eighth. He then birdied 9 and 10 and bogeyed 11 and 12 to stand 1-under for the day.
The par-4 No. 13 was just 292 yards, providing a chance to drive the green. Lais hit the green and sank a 35-footer for eagle. He birdied the par-5 16th after his third shot hit the pin, but he three-putted 17 for bogey.
“I had an up and down round,” he said. “On the back I played pretty solid. I made a few bad mistakes, didn’t get some balls up and down that I should have. I bogeyed 2 from five feet off the green, missed a five-footer on 11 and 12 and three-putted 17.
“But all in all it was a pretty good day. I’m not disappointed. I haven’t been playing a lot of golf. It was a pretty good round.”
Maier, playing in the same group as Lais, also went for the green on 13 but hit his drive in the water and took double-bogey 6 — a four-shot swing on that one hole.
Maier birdied the first two holes, bogeyed 6 and birdied 7 to make the turn in 34. A steady back nine had a birdie on 17 and seven pars in addition to the double on 13.
Martin parred his first 10 holes, then made bogey on 11 and birdied 14 and 17 for his 71. Wood bogeyed two of his first four holes and made the turn in 38, then fired a back-nine 34 with birdies on 12, 15 and 16 and a bogey on 18.
Long played in one of the final groups of the day and battled bumpy greens.
“We had a lot of footprints,” said Long, who shot 36-37. “The greens got very bumpy, but (Saturday) morning they will be better. I think they’ll dry out (Friday night). They will mow them in the morning and they will putt better.
“I’m glad we got to play. I’d much rather play a three-round tournament than two rounds. I’m happy about that.”