Assistant Sports Editor
KILLINGTON -- It is somewhere between a golf swing and a yoga move.
Whatever it was, it worked. For a day.
With his normal driver swing hampered by a six-month-old back injury, two-time defending Vermont Amateur champion Devin Komline stumbled -- or tripped? -- into a quick fix for getting off the tee at Green Mountain National Golf Course.
After avoiding the driver for the back nine, his first nine of the day, Komline finally tried the club on the par-5 first hole. Struggling to get his weight off his back foot, the lefty wound up kicking it out on his follow-through, his natural momentum swinging it forward as he maintained his balance over his right foot.
It was ungainly, but effective. The ball flew true.
"It happened on the first hole. I was just trying to find some way of getting through the ball, get through my round, and I didn't mean to do it," Komline said. "I did it a couple times accidentally, a couple times on purpose -- but it worked."
Jekyll and Hyde
How's this for a start?
Birdie, birdie, birdie, triple bogey.
"Jekyll and Hyde, I call it," Mike Stackus said. "I've done it before and I'll probably do it again."
That was the day in a nutshell for Stackus, the first-round co-leader at 1-under. Eight birdies offset four bogeys and a nightmarish 13th hole.
He also bagged eight birdies in the first round a year ago, but that ended in a much more fitting 6-under 66.
"At one point you just deal with it," Stackus said. "You start off with three [birdies] in a row and then you make a triple, so you look at that and, worst-case scenario, you're even through four. You've got four of these things done.
"It's tough, you think you get it going and the next hole it's gone. This game, it's humbling."
Nothing like the first time
Recent Mount Anthony Union High School graduates Jack Ralbovsky and Nate Walton would rather soon forget their debut rounds in the Vermont Amateur. They probably won't.
The numbers -- an 88 for Ralbovsky, a 94 for Walton -- are as high as either has shot in many months. Each will be buried by rounds in the 70s the rest of the summer, but the setting Tuesday will likely stick with them.
"I really like the format and how it's played -- how much you have to concentrate to play well," Ralbovsky said.
"It was really hard but I liked the challenge," Walton said. "My goal [coming in] was just to make the cut but the best score in my group was an 87."
Round 1 scorecard
Less than 400 yards, no hole played tougher Tuesday than the par-4 11th. According to first-round statistics, the field of 143 golfers averaged 5.2 strokes on the narrow, uphill hole fenced and dissected by hazards.
The next hole, No. 12, also under 400 yards, also played a full stroke above par, completing an ultra-demanding four-hole stretch that starts at No. 9.
On average, the back nine played a half-stroke tougher than the front. The front featured more birdies, 111-88, while the back half led the ominous "others" category -- triple bogey or worse -- 86-59.
The first hole was the easiest Tuesday, seeing 33 birdies and 64 pars. No. 15, another par-5, had the most eagles, with three.