Ken Tanigawa loves the Central Coast.
In September, he won his first PGA Tour Champions event at Pebble Beach.
On Saturday, Tanigawa and amateur partner Jim Strickland shot 62 at San Luis Obispo Country Club to share the Straight Down Fall Classic’s first-round lead. Two-time Fall Classic champions Scott Heyn and Corby Segal also shot 62 on Saturday.
The co-leaders are being pursued by former Fall Classic champions and PGA Tour winners. Three teams – the Pate brothers, Gary McCord-Drew Stoltz and Paul Stankowski-Brad Payne — are tied for third after shooting 64.
Five teams are tied for sixth 66, including the teams led by current PGA Tour players Jason Gore, Brandon Harkins and Tom Hoge. Cal Poly golf coach Scott Cartwright and Phil Mickelson’s younger brother/caddie, Tim, also shot 66, as did Doug and Greg Bauman of Biltmore Country Club.
The Straight Down Fall Classic is a 36-hole, best-ball pro-amateur event. Each team member plays his own ball; the low score counts toward the team total. The annual event has been conducted at San Luis Obispo Country Club since 1997. It is sponsored by Straight Down, a San Luis Obispo-based golf clothing company. The field features PGA Tour players, club pros and elite amateurs.
The final round will be played Sunday at San Luis Obispo Country Club. The event is free and open to the public. Tee times and results can be found at StraightDown.com. Sunday’s tee times are scheduled to run from 7:30 to 10 a.m.
Tanigawa, 50, and Strickland combined for seven birdies and an eagle Saturday. The eagle came on the sixth hole, when Strickland holed a 9-iron from approximately 130 yards.
“He hit a great shot. It was raining and the wind was blowing into us,” Tanigawa said. “He landed it past the hole. We couldn’t see it. It spun back and the guys behind the green started cheering.”
Heyn and Segal, who is the caddie for PGA Tour player Brandon Hagy, made nine birdies Saturday. They won the Fall Classic in 2012 and 2015.
Strickland won the Fall Classic two years ago with former PGA Tour winner Bryce Molder. Tanigawa is making his Fall Classic debut. He recently completed his rookie season on PGA Tour Champions. He won the PURE Insurance Championship in September with an eagle on Pebble Beach’s par-5 18th.
Steve Pate won six times on the PGA Tour and was a member of two victorious U.S. Ryder Cup teams (1991, ’99). His brother, John, won the Fall Classic in 2003 with partner Edward Loar.
McCord is a former winner on PGA Tour Champions and best known as the long-time golf commentator for CBS Sports.
Stankowski and Payne won the Fall Classic in 2001. Stankowski was a two-time PGA Tour winner.
Cal Poly Hall of Famer Loren Roberts and teammate Paul D’Ambra shot 69 on Saturday, as did San Luis Obispo Country Club general manager David Stocke and Ricky Griswold, a former Cal Poly golfer and the current club champion at San Luis Obispo Country Club.
–Provided by Sean Martin