Playing in his 48th Firecracker, George Warren carded five birdies in the first round.
While Warren inevitably drew some good-natured teasing around the Morehouse Country Club late Saturday afternoon, he was more interested in talking about the Texas invasion.
Bob Perry and Cal Clyde emerged as the first-round leaders with a 10-under 62, while fellow Texans Austin “Dub” West and Nathan Anderson stood three shots back.
Perry is a senior at Southeastern Oklahoma State University, while the remainder of the trio has ties to Texas Wesleyan.
“Tell the people if they want to see some good young golfers, who have a chance to play on the PGA Tour one day while they're still young, to come out here tomorrow,” Warren said. “This is the way it used to be when you had college golfers coming in here every year.”
Warren, whose parents managed the MCC, has been around long enough to remember how things used to be. He moved to Bastrop when he was 5. Back then, the MCC was a 9-hole course and the Firecracker was an individual tournament.
“You would have 300 players on a 9-hole course,” Warren recalled. “The first tee time was 6 o'clock in the morning and the last tee time was at 4:30 in the afternoon, but we got it done.”
Warren says the tournament was a sideshow to the party back in days gone by.
“You would have people still dancing at 5:30 Sunday morning,” Warren recalled. “The first tee was on a big slope. I saw a lot of people hit the ball and roll all the way down the hill.”
YOUNG GUN: The two Texas teams aren't alone in bringing an influx of youth into the tournament. Sixteen-year-old Josh Pederson shot one-under-71 as an individual.
“I didn't give Josh any help at all today,” said Kevin Reynolds, Pederson's uncle and teammate. “He's given up football and baseball for golf. He's won just about everything there is to win.”
Pederson is the son of Kansas City Chiefs' offensive coordinator Doug Pederson.
TOP FIVE: Nine-time Firecracker champion Bob Cooper and former San Diego Chargers' quarterback Stan Humphries shot a first-round 66, four strokes back. Boo Waller and Luke Cook and Mark Counts and Danny McMillan are tied for fourth at 68.
McMillan and Counts got off to a torrid start. McMillan, the Bastrop High golf coach, began the day with an eagle on 12 and a birdie on 13. Counts followed with a birdie on 14 to put the team at 4-under through three holes, but they played even par over the remaining 15 holes.
DON SIMS added to his tournament record by making his 60th Firecracker appearance Saturday afternoon. Sims played in 59 consecutive tournaments, before skipping the past two events. In a reunion of the 1976 championship team, Sims paired with longtime friend and golf partner Van Lee.
Sims and Lee played collegiate golf at LSU and Ole Miss, respectively. Needless to say, they had conflicting opinions on my Ole Miss shirt.
FIRECRACKER FASHION: Dr. Robert McCue maintained his unofficial claim on donning the tournament's brightest outfit, although he had some stiff competition from Tyler Farrar.
McCue sported reddish/pink pants with a florescent green shirt, while Farrar was clad in bright orange shorts, shirt and cap with a florescent green belt. (See accompanying photos).
As scores were being posted, Dr. McCue was given the edge based on his facial sun shield.
FALSE RUMOR: Word spread rapidly around the MCC late Saturday afternoon that Bob Boies had recorded a hole-in-one. Boies and MCC Pro Shop manager Alan Murry quickly traced the false rumor back to a wise guy reporter.