A compelling contrast that includes a 36-year age gap is featured atop the leaderboard after the first round of the 59th annual Skyview Pro/Am Benefit Golf Tournament.
Two former champions who couldn’t be much more diverse share the lead at 6-under 66 after 18 holes of the 54-hole event at Asheville Golf Course.
A field of 114 teed off on a perfect day of golf Tuesday at the par-72 Donald Ross design, and nobody played better than two Buncombe County residents - 26-year-old Noah Ratner and 62-year-old Richard Clark.
Ratner, the former Asheville High and Guilford College standout, had seven birdies – all in his first 12 holes – en route to his 66.
Clark, a longtime pro and former coach at Roberson High, used a stirring finish – he birdied each of his last five holes – to shoot 6-under.
Skip Taylor, of Henderson County, celebrating his retirement as a teacher and coach at North Henderson High last month, shot 67 and is one behind Clark and Ratner in the pro division.
He is tied for third with six-time Skyview champion Greg Parker. of Marion.
Another multiple Skyview champion, Jesse Allen, of Mississippi, is another shot back at 68.
The pro and senior pros are playing together as one division this year, with the pros playing the championship tees at 6,394 yards and the senior pros playing from 5,939 yards.
Ratner, who plays on the G Pro Tour, won the Skyview in 2015 and ’16 and plays most of his golf at home on the AGC course he grew up on.
“I did everything pretty well today,” said Ratner, who shot a 4-under 32 on the front side and added consecutive birdies at Nos. 10, 11 and 12.
“It’s always nice and comfortable to play well on your home course.”
Clark, who won this tournament as many as 25 years ago and is a perennial contender, woke up with a bad cases of hives, but it didn’t stop him from posting a 6-under 30 on the more difficult back side, including the strong close of birdies on his last five holes, Nos. 12-16.
“That’s Clark’s playground,” he said with a laugh when asked about his success on the back nine, which features tighter holes and much more elevation change that the relatively, flat more open front side.
“Probably not,” was his answer after a long sip of his beer when asked if he could keep up with his younger challengers over the next 36 holes. “But I’ll give it a shot. I made just about every putt I looked at today. Hopefully, I can keep that up.”
Tommy White, of Asheville, shot a 4-under 68 for a one-shot lead over Ivory Walker, of Asheville, in the senior amateur division.
Austin Fisher’s 68 leads the amateur division by one shot over Joseph Squires.
Second-round play for amateurs (8 a.m.) and pros (2 p.m.) is Wednesday, with the final round set for Thursday.
One of Buncombe County’s oldest tournaments includes a $13,900 purse, with $2,500 going to the winner.
Skyview Golf Tournament
at Asheville Golf Course
Pro/Senior pro division
Richard Clark -- 66
Noah Ratner -- 66
Greg Parker -- 67
Skip Taylor -- 67
Jesse Allen -- 68
Robbie Biershenk -- 70
Matt Cook -- 70
Jeff Peck -- 71
Paul Everett -- 71
Phil Nickell -- 71
Dustin Pressley -- 71
Austin Fisher -- 68
Joseph Squires -- 69
Joshua Crisp -- 71
Kyle Scruggs -- 71
Mitchell Cook -- 72
Fred Edwards -- 72
Thomas Garbee -- 73
Cody Mincey -- 73
Nick Hinton -- 75
Henry McGannon -- 76
Tommy White -- 68
Ivory Walker -- 69
Byron Bailey -- 71
Bourgin Byrd -- 71
Scott Pritchard -- 72
Cletis Dozier -- 73
Jeff Long -- 76
Forrest Greene -- 76
Dave Wald -- 76
Chuck Lingelbach -- 78
David Lingelbach -- 78
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