DALTON -- Evidently, defending Little Brown Jug champions Pete Alminas and A.J. Oleksak are better golfers than prognosticators.
Moments after telling Wahconah Country Club head professional Jim Underdown the course was playing harder than last year and the scores wouldn’t be as low, they started a run of five birdies in their final six holes to post an 8-under par 63 for the opening-round lead in the 54-hole best-ball tournament.
"I was really surprised when I saw the score," Underdown said. "I saw A.J. after they finished and he said, ‘We caught fire after we saw you.’ "
The three-time champions from Longmeadow Country Club weren’t the only ones to post low numbers. New Yorkers Bob Cooper (Orchard Creek) and David Fizer (Ballston Spa) combined for a 65, and three teams are tied for third at 66.
Topping the list at 66 are two-time champions Brent Deitz and Bill Tefft of Connecticut. They are tied with the Wahconah team of Paul Briggs and Aaron Klimchuk, and the combination of Ed Garbacik (Country Club of Greenfield) and Chris Ferriter (Ludlow Country Club). Klimchuk recently tied for fifth in the Massachusetts Amateur Public Links Championship, while Ferriter won the Stockbridge Trophy tournament this spring.
Oleksak and Alminas actually started their hot streak on No. 7. After struggling through a 1-over start, they played the final 12 holes in an eye-opening 9 under.
"That’s about as good as it gets," Underdown said.