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Course record set despite rain

DULUTH -- Lightning delays wreaked havoc on golfers' rhythms and dampened some of the excitement of the opening round of The Championship at Berkeley Hills, but low scores persisted on the day.

Acworth's Chris Nicol leads the field after posting a course-record 65, breaking 2010 Open champion and Berkeley Hills member Stewart Cink's previous record of 66. Nicol eagled the third hole and birdied three of the last four holes to give him a four-stroke lead going into today's second and final day of the tournament.

"The course played good today," Nicol said. "The rough is thick. You have to get in the fairway somehow. That's the biggest thing. Getting (the ball) in the fairway and then finding some way to get it below the hole. The greens are so quick downhill."

Atlanta's James Harris used the day's only hole-in-one, an ace on the eleventh hole, to post a score of 69 which puts him in second place after the first day. Sylvester's Sonny Skinner and Alpharetta's Tim Weinhart are two of the five players tied for third place with a score of 70.

Berkeley Hills's director of golf and Alpharetta resident Shawn McKinnon is one of six players tied for eighth with a score of 71.

"Golf's about timing," McKinnon said. "When you have a good rhythm going and you have to wait, it's hard to get back into (that rhythm)."

Another Berkeley Hills member, Norcross's Matt Luckett, leads Gwinnett County residents and all amateurs in the tournament with a score of 73 after birdying three holes on the back nine.

With only 17 of the nearly 100 players at even-par or better, it was a difficult day of golf for many of the players involved, particularly for those in the afternoon most affected by the lightning delays.