Mark Walker is the Adams Tour money leader. (Rick Hickman / Special to the American Press)
Last Modified: Thursday, October 03, 2013 10:18 AMDuring the summer Neithan Allen lapped the local field on area golf courses.
He won the Lake Charles, Sulphur and Westlake city championships, proving he was the best Southwest Louisiana had on the links.
But that was against amateurs. Wednesday he went out to prove he could play with some pros.
He did more than compete, Allen fired a 5-under 67, two shots off the lead after the first round of the $100,000 Kohl Invitational at Gray Plantation.
Alex Moon and Bobby Hudson share the lead after firing 65s, one shot better than Cole Moreland.
Both got their rounds in before an afternoon shower forced a 4-hour rain delay. Then, just when the players were about to go back out on the course, the skies opened up once more suspending play.
Half the field must finish their first round this morning before staring their second.
None of that bothered Allen, who was done long before the rains came.
After his summer of winning the 30-year-old quit his job as a journeyman plumber for his dream of making it as a pro golfer.
“The summer gave me confidence and there is no other time,” Allen said. “It’s hard to do when you have a family, but my wife gave me her blessing so the time is right. It was now or never.”
Allen’s first drive as a pro went out of bounds, hardly the start he wanted. He bogeyed the first hole but quickly recovered.
“Not a great start,” Allen said. “I recovered by getting a birdie on the second hole.”
Allen then found his groove and even chipped in for an eagle-2 out of the sand.
“That was a big momentum shift,” he said. “It is a good thing it hit the flag and dropped or I would have shot by the hole by 20 feet or so.”
Allen just missed chipping in from off the green on the last hole for a birdie, but his ball lipped the hole and stayed out.
“That would have been a nice ending,” he said.
Still, it was a good day for the local.
“I want to see how I do against these guys,” Allen said. “It is one thing to go against the local golfers where there are five our six guys who can shoot low. Out here there are 120 who can shoot low scores so you can’t make mistakes.”
Moon didn’t make many mistakes.
Taking advantage of some soft greens early, Adams Tour pro got off to a fast start, shooting a 7-under par 65. That was one shot better than Moreland.
The cut will come today with the final round finishing on Saturday.
“I made a lot of good putts,” Moon said. “I hit the ball to the green safe and comfortable and then turned it into a putting contest with myself.”
Moon shot the first nine holes in 4-under, sinking birdies on holes 4-6. His only bogey of the day came on the second hole.
“I got in a good rhythm there,” Moon said.
He added three more birdies on the back nine.
“I just wanted to stay consistent,” he said. “I wanted to give myself a chance on every hole.”
Moon, who won a tournament on the Gateway Tour earlier this year, knows it is just one round, but a good start helps.
“It takes some pressure off of you,” Moon said. “You can relax and not worry about the cut.”
Hudson was just as good as he finished his round bogey free. He was especially hot early, birding the first two holes then posting an eagle-3 on the seventh before ending the front nine with a 6-under 30.
His lone birdie on the back nine came on the par-4 16th, the same hole Allen eagled.
Hudson finished his day just as the rains began.
Blake Trimble is the leader on the course with a 5-under 31 through nine holes.