Eddie Doyle knows this might be the final time he gets to compete on his home courses.
Doyle, a former winner of the Fort Dodge Ford Lincoln Toyota Webster County Golf Tournament presented by The Messenger, fired an opening round 3-under par Saturday — a score that places him one shot back of Austin Morrow at the top.
Morrow came out with a 4-under round of 68 with Doyle sitting in second. Justin Jorgensen and Kole Petersen each carded a 1-under and are tied for third, followed by defending champion Ryan Reeder, who is five strokes back.
In the senior division, Lance Utley holds a one-shot advantage over both Steve Schmidt and Terry Miller thanks to his 3-under round.
Golfers will flip courses for Sunday’s second round, with the men heading to the Fort Dodge Country Club and the women teeing up at Lakeside. The championship nine for the men’s open and senior divisions will start at around 6 p.m. at the FDCC, with the Top-16 scores in action.
Doyle, who recently completed his tenure as the clubhouse manager at the FDCC, is moving to Florida next week. A St. Edmond graduate, Doyle overcame a “slip” on his round to remain in the hunt.
“My putter was hot,” he said. “I felt like every putt I stood over I could make and I made a lot of them.
“The only hiccup I had was on 18. My second shot with my 2-iron kind of slipped in my hands and I pull-hooked it like 60 yards off line into the hazard, but I made a 20-foot par save.”
A chip-in for birdie on No. 17 also helped with the round for Doyle, who had a 34 on the front-nine with four birdies. He also had his two birdies on the back and had nine pars with three bogeys overall.
“I came off the tee pretty well, which is key to playing well,” he said. “My overall ball-striking wasn’t my best, but I scored really well. The course was in great shape. The greens rolled perfectly. Chad (Graaf) and his crew at Lakeside always do an outstanding job. They had some fun pins out there, where you get on the wrong side and it can get tough.”
For Doyle, the chance to play one more time in this event helped him realize his career change was the right one moving forward. After competing for Kirkwood, he joined the golf program at the University of Tampa in Florida.
“It’s weird to think this is my last time playing in this because I’ve been playing in it for 10 years — since I was 13,” Doyle said. “But I’m excited to start a new path in life. Golf is my passion and I just realized that playing the sport is more enjoyable for me than working in the business, so I wanted to find something else to do for a career.
“I always really enjoyed living in Florida when I was in college and always wanted to go back down. I’m gonna miss Fort Dodge, but all my family is here so it’s not like I’ll be gone forever.”
Morrow fired a 32 on the back nine, recording four birdies after picking up one birdie on the front. He also had just a single bogey, recording 12 pars for his round.