Richland's Aichele leads after first round of Northwest Open

Jason Aichele has a two-stroke lead over a pair of amateurs at the tournament at Wine Valley Golf Course.

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Zac Snedeker tees off on the third hole during the Northwest Open's first round at Wine Valley Golf Club Monday. Snedeker, from Broadmoor Golf Course in Seattle, is tied for 102nd place after a first-round 79.

WALLA WALLA - Professional Jason Aichele of Meadow Springs Country Club in Richland leads the Northwest Open after firing a first round score of 6-under-par 66 Monday at the Wine Valley Golf Course.

Two other professionals and a pair of amateur players are deadlocked in second place with matching 68s, just two strokes off the pace.

Rob Gibbons of Arrowhead Golf Course in Mollala, Ore., and Brandon Kearney of Bend Golf and Country Club in Bend, Ore., are the two professionals in hot pursuit of the lead along with amateurs Dan Whitaker of Ellensburg Golf and Country Club in Ellensburg, and Michael Haack of Meridian Valley Country Club in Kent, Wash.

Five golfers are tied at 69, three strokes back, on the par-72 links-style course that is in its second year of operation. Among those at 69 is Elijah Perkins, an assistant pro at Wine Valley.

Also shooting 69 during Monday's first round of the 54-hole event are Ryan Benzel of Everett, Mark Gardner of Spokane, Chris Griffin of Tacoma and amateur Mike O'Keefe of Snoqualmie.

Another seven players are logjammed at 70, two strokes better than par and four off the pace. That group includes Steve Stull of Richland, the former head golf professional at the Walla Walla Country Club.

Amateur Erik Hanson, a former left-handed pitcher for the Seattle Mariners, is one of seven players who finished at 71. Mike Hegarty of Wildhorse Resort at Mission, Ore., is also in at 71.

No fewer than 12 players were grouped at 1-over 73. Among them are Brady Sharp, an assistant golf professional at the Walla Walla Country Club, and amateur Jim Pliska, who plays his golf at Wine Valley.

Scott Larsen, a Walla Walla amateur, shot 74, and John Thorsnes, the head golf pro at Wine Valley, carded a 78.

The Northwest Open continues today with tee times beginning at 7:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. off the No. 1 and No. 10 tees. The top 70 finishers after today's round qualify for Wednesday's final round.

Northwest Open leaders

First Round

Jason Aichele, Richland 66

Michael Haack, (a). Kent 68

Dan Whitaker, (a) Ellensburg 68

Brandon Kearney, Bend 68

Rob Gibbons, Mollala, Ore. 68

Ryan Benzel, Everett 69

Mike O'Keefe, (a) Snoqualmie 69

Elijah Perkins, Walla Walla 69

Mark Gardner, Spokane 69

Chris Griffin, Tacoma 69

Scott Krieger, Portland 70

Brian Thornton, Kent 70

Steve Stull, Richland 70

Lon Hinkle, Big Fork, Mont. 70

Cameron Whittle, (a) Moses Lake 70

Michael Kloenne, Portland 70

Rob Clark, Wenatchee 70

Greg Smith, Willow Lake 71

Jeff Bender, Kennewick 71

Darek Franklin, Salem, Ore. 71

Brent Murray, Lake Oswego 71

Erik Hanson (a), Seattle 71

Bob Rannow, Florence, Ore. 71

Mike Hegarty, Pendleton 71

Josh Immordino, Kent 72

Brandon Thompson, Newberg, Ore. 72

Louie Runge, Raymond, Wash. 72

Jim Dunlap, Jim (a), Portland 72

Tyler Wong, Bellingham 72

Justin Bos, Sunnyside 72

Gordon Corder, Spokane 72

Mike Toll, Renton 72

Brad Hansen, Blanchard, Idaho 73

Ryan Malby, Kalispell, Mont. 73

Jeff Coston, Blaine, Wash. 73

Casey McCoy, The Dalles, Ore. 73

Keith Crimp, (a) Ellensburg 73

Jerry Johnson, Olympia 73

Dan Ostrin, Bend, Ore. 73

Jim Pliska (a), Walla Walla 73

Adam Syverson, Spokane 73

Todd O'Neal, Washougal, Wash. 73

Brady Sharp, Walla Walla 73

Chris Isaacson, Tri-Cities 73

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