FINDLEY LAKE – Matthew Campbell shot a 64, 8-under, on day one of the LECOM Health Challenge to hold a one shot lead ahead of Tim Wilkinson. Six other players are tied at 66, 6-under.
Campbell, a New York native, missed the course record by one shot, carding nine birdies and one bogey. He said playing in his home state was comfortable.
As of 10:15 a.m., Kevin Lucas was 5-under after five holes, with three birdies and an eagle. Campbell had yet to tee off at that time.
Campbell grew up in Rome, New York, around four and a half hours away from Findley Lake. Despite making his debut at Peek’n Peak Resort, the 30-year-old referenced feeling at home in the Empire State.
“My dad’s here who hasn’t seen me play in a long time, and if I make the weekend, then a lot of my friends are going to come out,” said Campbell. “It’s definitely comfortable being in the home state, even though this place is a lot different than where I grew up. It has a little bit of Adirondack [mountains] feel out here, and I’ve played out there before.”
He said the course allowed him to play to his strengths.
“I had a lot of wedges in and I hit those close, so I guess the course played to my strengths,” said Campbell. “I was knocking them pretty close on the back nine and made a few 10- and 15-footers. I was actually between putters today. I wasn’t sure which putter I was going to use, so I had them both in the bag. I ended up just using one and sticking with it.”
Campbell made his Korn Ferry Tour debut three weeks ago at the Lincoln Land Championship after getting in as an alternate the week of the tournament. A T11 finish there in addition to a T25 last week in Utah has allowed him to set his schedule for the remainder of the Regular Season. After playing state opens and mini-tours for several years, Campbell had considered retirement from professional golf as recently as this year.
“There’s been two or three times that I can remember contemplating retirement,” said Campbell. “This year has definitely been one of them. I was going to potentially get into the teaching side of things, but now I’m going to keep riding this wave. This was very close to being my last year before Springfield.”
The 64 was one stroke off the 18-hole tournament record. Rick Lamb (2016) and Kyle Jones (2018) have each carded a 63 at Peek’n Peak Resort.
New Zealander Tim Wilkinson sits one shot back at 7-under 65. The 40-year-old posted seven birdies during a bogey-free round, one of five completed bogey-free rounds on Thursday.
“I hit a lot of greens today,” said Wilkinson, after hitting 17 out of 18 during the first round. “If I was ever in between clubs I just hit it to the middle of the green to about 25 feet away. It was a pretty stress-free round overall.”