By ERIC MILLINDER
Defending champion Don Erickson III posted a 3-under 67 to take a one-shot lead in the opening round of the 2013 Sunnehanna Senior Invitational on Monday.
Erickson, a DuBois resident and the 1988 Pennsylvania Amateur Champion, blistered Sunnehanna’s par-70 layout with a bogey-free round that featured birdies at Nos. 4, 5, and 7 along with 15 pars.
Being a frontrunner is a new position for the 61-year old Erickson, who had to overcome a five-stroke deficit in the final round of last year’s contest to win by two shots.
Sam Lewis, an attorney from Montrose, sits a stroke back in second at 2-under 68.
Lewis’ round was more of a roller coaster, as the member of Hunstville Golf Club bogeyed four of his opening six holes but offset those with six birdies at Nos. 1, 3, 7, 11, 12, and 16. His 3-under 32 was the lowest back-nine total of the day.
Mac McGee (Midland, TX), John Rodney (Pittsburgh), and Ronnie Tumlin (Augustine, FL) are tied for third after posting even-par 70.
Paul Schlacter, the third-ranked senior in the nation, is alone in sixth after shooting a
Local players Dennis Brady and David Lucks lead a group of five people tied for seventh after posting 72s.
Brady, a Westmont Hilltop graduate, made birdie at the opening par-4 first hole and closed his round with a birdie at the tricky par-3 16th to offset four bogeys.
Today’s round marked a 25-year wait that Lucks had to endure to compete at Sunnehanna.
Lucks, who recently relocated to Johnstown, had earned an invitation to the 1988 Sunnehanna Amateur by winning the Missouri State Amateur, but he was unable to compete because of business commitments at a new job.
In Monday’s round, Lucks reeled off 15 pars and a birdie at the par-4 third hole against a double-bogey at the difficult dogleg second hole and a bogey at No. 17.
In the super-senior division, Ted Smith, the top-ranked player from Wilkinson, Indiana, holds a two-shot lead over Johnstown’s Ross VanWagenen after posting a 1-under 69.
Smith played his front-nine in even-par with a birdie at the third followed by a bogey at the uphill par-5 ninth hole.
Smith’s inward nine was more up-and-down, as he got off to a fast start with birdies at Nos. 11 and 13 but fell back with bogeys at Nos. 14, and 15. He finished his day with a birdie at the 17th to climb back into red numbers.
Van Wagenen stumbled out of the gate with a triple-bogey 7 at the second but rebounded with four birdies at Nos. 3, 5, 8, and 17.
Doug Tambara of Huntington Beach, California is third after posting a 3-over 73.
Defending super-senior champion Lee Lykens of Clearfield is tied-7th after shooting a 6-over 76. Joining Lykens at 76 is Johnstown’s Phil Saylor.
Saylor got off to a fine start by playing his opening six holes 1-over par only to see his round derailed by a quadruple-bogey 7 at the downhill par-3 seventh hole.
However, the retired attorney bounced back with 11 consecutive pars to stay within striking distance of the leaders.
The second round begins this morning at 9 a.m.