Jesse Florkowski has never lost at the North American One-Armed Golfer Association Championship.
In Florkowski’s four attempts at victory, he’s won them all and came into Monday’s first round of the 2018 edition of the tournament the clubhouse favorite to win again.
Florkowski, of Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada, shot a 2-over par 74 on Odessa Country Club’s Old Course to sit in second place in the Getchell Division.
Shawn Munn shot a 1-under 71 to hold a three-shot lead over Florkowski heading into today’s second round, which begins at 8 a.m. on the Links Course.
Vince Biser (75), Scott Lusk (76), Pat Schroeder (79) and Alan Gentry (82) round out the top six in the Getchell Division.
Monday’s first round was Florkowski’s first time walking the Old Course as he couldn’t play a practice round because his flight into town was delayed.
Florkowski, the world’s No. 1-ranked one-armed golfer, went 3-over 39 on the front nine. He found more of a rhythm on the back nine, finishing 1-under 35.
“I’m happy with it and hopefully tomorrow goes better,” Florkowski, 28, said about the first round. “I’m sure there’s going to be a couple more low scores out there, so I just got to keep doing what I’m doing and actually make a little bit more putts because today I did not.
“If I do that, I should be good.”
The North American One-Armed Golfer Association Championship is split into three divisions. The Getchell Division golfers are the unassisted players, who have only one hand touching the club for any stroke.
The Fullgraf Division competitors are the assisted players, where the use of anything other than one hand touching the club is allowed.
Steve Day (69) shot 3-under to lead the Fullgraf Division by three strokes over Odessa’s Clay Kemper (72), who shot even par.
“My putting was really good today,” Kemper said. “I hit a few errant shots, but putted really well.”
Kemper, who has played at Odessa Country Club several dozen times before the tournament, said his knowledge of the course will help him know where not to hit the ball throughout this week.
He started his round with a triple bogey, but recovered to sit within striking distance of Day.
The Sanders Division allows assisted and unassisted players to compete against each other with their USGA handicaps.
Bob Gorman (69) leads the Sanders Division, followed by Bruce Hobbs (70), Bartolomeo Olivia (72) and Shawn Reimold (75) in the top four.
This is the first time the organization has been played in Texas, or the Southwest.
Over the past few years, the tournament has been held in Newport, R.I., Louisville, Ky., Mesquite, Nev. and Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., at PGA National Golf Club.
Kemper, who grew up west of Lamesa and is a 1972 graduate of Klondike High School, was instrumental in bringing the tournament to the Permian Basin. After the first round of play, he was happy to have the even on display.
“Hopefully it’ll mean a lot of inspiration for people that have had an injury and don’t think they can play golf,” Kemper said. “But we’re trying to show them that you can overcome any obstacle in life.
“No matter what life throws at you, you can still overcome it.”
Today’s second round will be the final day of stroke play, with the top eight golfers in each division advancing to match play on Wednesday and Thursday.
The top four seeds from each division will get an opponent from the bottom four seeds by random draw to create a bracket for the rest of the tournament. For example, the No. 1 seed’s matchup winner will face the victor of the No. 4 seed’s matchup.
The quarterfinals take place Wednesday on the Links Course, with Thursday’s semifinals and championship matches returning to the Old Course.
Monday, Odessa Country Club
1. Shawn Munn 71, 2. Jesse Florkowski 74, 3. Vince Biser 75, 4. Scott Lusk 76, 5. Pat Schroeder 79, 6. Alan Gentry 82, 7. Brandon Williams 84, 8. Jason Aken 88, 9. Steven Ford 91, 10. Chris Kemp 100
1. Steve Day 69, 2. Clay Kemper 72, 3. Bill Frey 75, 4. Carson Novins 79, 5. Steven Shipuleski 80, 6. Ryan Matthews 83, 7. (tie) Jonathan Synder 85, and Dan Aldrich 85, 9. Steve McGowan 87, 10. Xander Dobreff 91, 11. Cory Crowley 102
1. Bob Gorman 69, 2. Bruce Hobbs 70, 3. Bartolomeo Olivia 72, 4. Shawn Reimold 75, 5. (tie) Kevin Holland 76, Dick Boccaccio 76, 7. Musa Pam 81, 8. Austin Brown 82, 9. Jeff Dawley 85, 10. Tom Chase 87, 11. Daniel Wolfe 111, 12. John Barton 115, 13. Charly McKinnon 122, 14. Larry Walsh 140