NEWS
09/02/2016 14:00 EDT | Updated 09/03/2017 01:12 EDT

Three golfers tied for early Shaw Classic lead before play suspended

CALGARY — A loud crack of thunder roared just behind Rod Spittle shortly after he finished his first round at the Shaw Charity Classic.

Only a moment later, a horn sounded to suspend play at the fourth annual PGA Tour Champions event.

"We truly are very lucky to have had our 9:30 (tee) time this morning, so now we'll go stay dry and watch everybody else run around for the afternoon," said Spittle, of Niagara Falls, Ont., who carded a score of 2-under 68 to sit one shot behind clubhouse leaders Blaine McCallister and Billy Mayfair. "With the weather behind us - we're taking a peak — it's nice to get done first of all. Now we get to go have some lunch in a hurry."

Spittle bogeyed two of his first five holes at Canyon Meadows Golf and Country Club before reeling off five birdies in his next nine holes.

"I just started slowly," admitted Spittle, who finished in a tie for 12th spot at last year's Shaw Charity Classic. "I kind of simmered down and made three birdies on the back nine just to get back to where I was supposed to be for the first round, so not too many complaints."

Defending champion Jeff Maggert is among a group of three golfers tied for the lead when play was halted. Maggert was sitting at 6 under through 12 holes, while David Frost and Jose Coceres had the same score through 13 and 15 holes respectively.

Carlos Franco, Tom Byrum, Duffy Waldorf and Fred Funk were all one shot behind the leaders when play was suspended.

Spittle's playing partner, Vancouver's Stephen Ames, double bogeyed the first hole before rebounding to record a pair of birdies to finish his first round at even par.

"Tough start, but other than that it was pretty good," said Ames, a former Calgary resident who finished in a tie for fifth last year. "I didn't make anything unfortunately, but overall I was happy how I hit the golf ball."

Victoria's Jim Rutledge is sitting at 1 under through 11 holes.

Play was originally scheduled to resume at 3:45 p.m., but that plan was hindered because of continuing lightning, thunder, hail and heavy rain.

This is Spittle's fourth straight year competing in Calgary and he has continually had glowing reviews of the tournament and the par-70, 7,029-yard Canyon Meadows layout.

"I sound like a broken record after the last three or four years," he said. "It's always fun to come home. It's turned out to be the surprise of the Champions Tour.

"Now guys are looking forward to coming to Calgary. We played with Glen Day, this is his first time playing here. So many guys just never have come to Vancouver or Calgary or come out west here. The course is in terrific shape and the greens are real smooth."