Chris McConnell of Missoula took advantage of perfect scoring conditions Saturday to grab a one-stroke lead after the first day of the Don Barnett Memorial golf tournament at Missoula Country Club.
McConnell, a lefty whose home course is across the street at Larchmont, posted a 5-under-par 66, good for a narrow lead over reigning Missoula Country Club champion Bob Gray, who closed with four straight birdies for a 67.
Tony Buda, from the Portland, Ore., area, was next with a 68, followed by former Eagle Bend assistant pro Chris Conley, another lefty who opened with a 69. Conley has been reinstated as an amateur.
MCC's Gary Koprivica, who won the Barnett in 1997 and '99, is five strokes back at 71 along with Robb Bergeson of Billings, last year's runner-up.
McConnell was 2-over after three holes, but roared back with eight birdies, including three straight to finish his round.
Gray had a string of six straight 3s on his card starting at No. 12.
Cindy Reimers leads the women's portion ofthe tournament after an opening-round 85. Carrie Johnson is next at 88.
The leaders will tee off Sunday at 8 a.m. There will be a derby Sunday afternoon with the low 20 players from Saturday's round.
Chris McConnell, Missoula 66
Bob Gray, Missoula 67
Tony Buda, Portland, Ore., 68
Chris Conley, Missoula 69
Robb Bergeson, Billings 71
Gary Koprivica, Missoula 71
Brett Bennyhoff, Great Falls 72
Adam Hober, Missoula 72
Dirk Cloninger, Missoula 73
Brian Sheridan, Missoula 73
Eric Solander, Missoula 73
Connor Sproul, Missoula 73
Brad Burtness, Spokane 74
Dave Johnson, Missoula 74
Ken Klaudt, Missoula 74
Reid Lende, Livingnston 74