STATELINE, Nev. - Rick Rhoden bounced back from a rare day off from golf to take the first-round lead with an all-time tournament best Stableford score of 30 points at the American Century Championship Friday at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course.
Rhoden, who's won the ACC five times and totaled more than $780,000 in earnings, made seven birdies and two bogeys during his round. He leads former NFL quarterbacks Mark Rypien and Billy Joe Tolliver, who are tied for second with 28 points. Trent Dilfer, Chris Chandler and Grant Fuhr are all tied for third with 25 points.
"I'm just starting to play pretty good again the last month or so," said Rhoden, who qualified for the U.S. Senior Open earlier this week in Scottsdale, Ariz. "There are a lot of guys that are capable of shooting a good round and getting a lot of birdies or eagles on this course."
Rhoden said he was burned out by the amount of golf he's played recently, including both the qualifier in Arizona and two practice rounds this week at Edgewood. Although he took Thursday off, defending champion and four-time winner Dan Quinn wasn't able to take advantage.
Quinn, who has won three of the past four tournaments, scored only 18 points Friday and never strung together many birdies. The $500,000 tournament continues today and ends on Sunday.
Under the Stableford scoring format, players earn 6 points for an eagle, 3 points for a birdie, 1 point for par, 0 points for bogeys and minus-2 points for double bogey. The theory is it speeds up play for bad golfers and also keeps them in contention longer.
But judging by Friday's scores, bad players may pick up their ball sooner but they still don't stand a chance of winning.
Last year, seven players scored 20 or more points in the first round. On Friday at Edgewood, 10 scored in the 20s, an indication the gap could be tightening between Rhoden and Quinn. The two players have won six of the last eight titles.
"I think in the past few years, a lot more guys are playing a lot better," Chandler said. "And it's probably not what it was five, seven years ago for Rick, just kind of show up and know he was going to run everybody over. He still can, but it's a little tougher for him to just run away with things."
Tolliver, who won the tournament in 1996, was in position to take the lead on par-5 18th, a hole most of the top players birdie. But his approach shot from 141 yards hit a tree and landed in the water, which resulted in one of three bogeys during his round. He finished with seven birdies.
"Last year I was leading Sunday and played conservatively and got my ass kicked," said Tolliver, who finished fourth in 2004. "I figured this game out, this Stableford deal. It's all about birdies. I can go out and make nine birdies and nine bogeys and I'm still beating the guy that makes 18 straight pars."