TYLER -- It may be the championship of the Lone Star State, but after one round a Louisianan is atop of the leaderboard.
Grady Brame Jr., of Hammond, Louisiana, fired an opening round of 7-under 63 on Tuesday to take the lead of the $150,000 50th Texas State Open at The Cascades Golf & Country Club in Tyler.
Brame carded three birdies on the front nine and four on the back to take a one-shot lead over a trio of golfers — Grant Schroeder (Montgomery), Jack Ireland (Mission Viejo, California) and amateur Jun Min “Jimmy” Lee (Bryan).
“The last time I played in the Texas State Open was in 2016 at Castle Hills, so it’s good to be back,” Brame said. “It feels pretty good to start off in the lead but there are still three rounds left so there isn’t any true sense of satisfaction just yet. Today I just took advantage of the birdies when they came. I’ve been struggling up to this point this summer but hopefully this will be a turnaround and I can do something special this week.”
The second round is scheduled to begin at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday with fans invited (admission free, but maintain social distancing).
Brame, 27, attended Southeastern Louisiana University, graduating in 2015 with a degree in marketing. He played on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada last year.
The Texas State Open, conducted by the Northern Texas PGA, will also honor the top amateur and PGA Professional on Friday.
Lee, who just competed his freshman year at Texas A&M, leads the amateurs in the field. Austin Westlake sophomore J. Holland Humphries, who captured the Byron Nelson Junior Classic earlier this year in Dallas, is next with a 4-under 66. He is an SMU commit. Houston’s Mason Nome, who just completed his freshman year at Texas, is third at 67 with two local golfers — Tyler’s Bryan Baker and Quitman’s Jeremy Bates (who will be a senior at Arkansas-Fort Smith) — tied for fourth with 68. Van’s Logan Lockwood, who plays at Texas State, is tied for sixth with a 69.
Seventeen PGA professionals are in the field with Ben Kern, 2018 Texas State Open Champion and PGA head professional at Georgetown Country Club, leading. After shooting a 4-under par, 66, Kern has a one stroke lead over Spencer Dillard, PGA assistant professional at Preston Trail Golf Club in Dallas.
Kyle Pritchard, of Castroville, is the defending champion of the TSO and is currently tied for 14th at 3-under 67.
“It always feels good to come back as a champion,” Pritchard said. “There’s a little more pressure, though.”
Amateur Christian Barber, of Spring, made a hole-in-one on hole No. 9. He hit a 7-iron from 209 yards for his ace.
The 72-hole stroke play event consists of 156 players with 123 professionals and 32 amateurs competing. The field will play 36-holes before being cut to the low 55 scores and ties. All four rounds will be contested at The Cascades.