PITTSFIELD -- Jim Mueller added to his good history at Berkshire Hills Country Club on Friday, firing a sizzling 6-under-par 66 to take the first-round lead in the Berkshire Hills Singles tournament.
Mueller, who has won the Pewter Cup at the Hills with cousin Mark Chylinski three times (most recently in 2011), carded seven birdies and a single bogey to create a two-shot cushion over Dennis Yarrows of Northampton Country Club. Defending champion Andy Congdon is three shots back after a solid 69. Former Pittsfield city champion Bob Linn shot a 2-under 70 to stand alone in fourth place.
Despite his success and experience at the Hills -- "I've been coming here 28 years," he said -- the score was a little surprising, considering Mueller had only played three times over the past three weeks.
"But they've all been pretty good rounds, and that has given me a little confidence," said the 54-year-old Altamont, N.Y., resident and Orchard Creek Country Club member.
Mueller, who is rounding into form after undergoing a total knee replacement last year, credited accurate iron play, a hot putter and good scoring conditions for his enjoyable 18-hole trip.
"I've found something with my irons and all of a sudden it has clicked," said Mueller, who was especially on-target while making five birdies during a 4-under 33 back nine. "I'm hitting it right where I want to, and today I putted pretty well."
As Friday's low scores indicate, the scoring conditions were ideal. The course was firm and fast, there wasn't much wind and the tees were not back because the opening round is used to flight the field for the final 36 holes.
"The course will play longer tomorrow [Saturday]," he said.
With the likes of Yarrows, Congdon, Linn and Wahconah Country Club standout Paul Briggs (71) lurking and 36 holes to go, Mueller knows he's a long way from a victory.
"I played with Bob today and his round could have easily been a 66 as well," Mueller said. "And I've played enough with Andy to know what he can do."
To contact Richard Lord:
or (413) 496-6236.