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Doolittle Leads Nike Event With Course-Record 64

May 24, 1996

GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) _ Bobby Doolittle could do no wrong as he tied the Verdae Greens Golf Club course record Thursday with an 8-under-par 64 to take the first round lead at the $200,000 NIKE Greater Greenville Classic.

Doolittle, 25, from Orlando, Fla., posted a bogey-free round.

``As a conditional member, I’ve only played in five tournaments before this week and made the cut in three of them,″ said Doolittle. ``I’ve had to do a lot of Monday qualifying just to get into the tournaments.″

Doolittle began the week at the Monday qualifying tournament, where the top 14 players earn berths in the Nike Tour each week.

``I wasn’t playing very well, there was no way I was going to play my way in,″ said Doolittle. ``I was shooting 3-over par with only one hole to play when the tournament officials called me off the course and told me I had gotten into the tournament on my membership number.″

Doolittle wasted little time making the most of his opportunity Thursday with five birdies on his first nine holes. With three birdies coming in, he equaled the course record was set by five tour members at last year’s tournament.

``I was pretty close to the pin all day, except for No. 17,″ said Doolittle. ``I had a 50-foot putt there and was just trying to roll it close, but it went right in the cup.″

Three players are one shot out of the lead: Brad Ott Jerry Foltz and Steve Haskins,

Foltz had an interesting way of preparing for this week’s tournament.

``I didn’t hit a practice ball all week,″ laughed Foltz. ``I missed the cut last week by a bundle. I’ve been thinking too much about swing thoughts and not relying on my natural ability.

``Today, I only hit 12 balls on the practice range to warm up and hit a few practice putts before going to the tee, and it obviously worked for me.″

This is not the first time Foltz employed the tactic in South Carolina. He approached last year’s Nike Carolina Classic in Florence in a similar fashion and won the tournament.

``I’m aware of that fact,″ smiled Foltz. ``I’m hoping it will happen again.″

Joe Durant, the current money leader, shot a 6-under-par 66 Thursday and was tied with two others for fifth place.

Jerry Haas recorded his first Nike Tour hole-in-one when he aced the 175-yard sixth with a 6-iron.

This week’s winner collects $36,000.