Eddie Stewart played golf at the University of Wyoming, graduating in 2014.
Friday’s first round of the Laramie Open was the first time Stewart had been back to the Glenn Red Jacoby Golf Course since he was in college, and he made the most of it.
Stewart shot a 4-under-par 67 and is tied for the lead with Dominic Piccirillo of Salem, South Carolina.
Stewart, who is from Jackson, but now is a professional in Phoenix, made the turn at 1-over, but finished 5-under over his last six holes on the back nine. Stewart birdied holes 13, 14 and 16, and eagled the par-5 17th.
“I stayed patient,” Stewart said about his round. “I definitely got frustrated a couple of times, but I was able to reset nicely and stay patient.
“I was hitting the ball really well, but I wasn’t putting great. I finally made a (birdie) putt on No. 13, then another birdie on 14 to get me rolling.”
Stewart, who played three years for UW, said he didn’t remember as much about the course as he thought he would, but added: “It is nice to be back home.”
Piccirillo started his round on the back nine, and was 3-under after his first nine holes, with an eagle on No. 17 and a birdie on No. 18. He said he made about a 30-foot putt for birdie on the par-4 14th hole and about a 25-footer on No. 18.
Piccirillo bogeyed the third and fourth holes, but birdied three of his final four to end his round, including a chip-in birdie on the par-5 sixth.
“Some parts of the round were really easy, and a lot of it was really hard,” Piccirillo said. “It felt really good to come out under par with as bad as I hit it. I just made a lot of putts that really saved me.”
Piccirillo said he and a friend are playing the Laramie Open for the second time. They liked it so much last year that they wanted to return, and they also will play in next week’s Wyoming Open in Cheyenne.
Spencer Painton, JT Timmons and Nick Mason, who all teed off in the afternoon, are tied for third at 3-under 68.
Laramie’s John Murdock IV is one of 10 players two shots back at 2-under. Murdock, who completed his college golf career at UW this spring, is playing in his second professional tournament.
Murdock started on the back nine and was 2-under at the turn. He double-bogeyed the short par-4 first hole. “I basically hit it into the hospital,” he said with a laugh. Murdock bogeyed the par-3 fourth hole, but rallied with birdies on holes 5, 6 and 9.
“It was a grind,” Murdock said. “The rough out there is tough, and I was in some spots I’ve really never been before and not knowing what that particular shot would do.
“I was fighting frustration a little bit during the round, but to be under par, I will definitely take that.”
Twenty-one professionals shot under par, and 14 others are at even par.
The lowest amateur rounds on the first day went to UW golfer Tyler Severin and Casper’s Taj Sutherland at 1-under.
The second round begins at 7:30 a.m. today.
Joe Jensen, Jacoby Golf Course manager, said despite some mowing, the rough has been growing on the course for the past three weeks for the Laramie Open.
The players have noticed.
“The rough is like seven inches out there,” Picirillo said. “It is really thick, and I don’t remember it being as thick last year. They’ve also tightened up some of the fairways.
“But the course is very fair. You just have to hit good shots, especially good tee shots.”
Kane Webber, an Australian native who is a professional in the Denver area, is playing in his third Laramie Open. He said the course is playing a lot softer with recent wet weather, which has helped the rough grow.
“If you are only two or three yards off the fairway, you get into the thick rough,” said Webber, who shot 2-over Friday. “The course should be tough, and right now it is fantastic, and the greens are great.”
Webber, a three-time winner of the Wyoming Open in Cheyenne, turns 39 today.