WHEELING - John Kingora's decision to cut his beach vacation short by one day to participate in the Stoney Hollow Amateur Golf Championships proved to be a wise move.
Putting together a sparkling round that included seven birdies and three bogeys on Oglebay Park's Arnold Palmer course, the 49-year-old Waynesburg resident fired a four-under par 67 Saturday to take the lead by one stroke in the medal division of the Championship Flight.
However, Kingora was the first to mention there are some other very impressive names near the top of the leader board as the venue changes today to the more challenging Robert Trent Jones layout.
''I'm really pleased with how I played," Kingora noted following Saturday's round. ''It was a fun day but I could just as easily go out and shoot an 80 (today). The Jones course is definitely a lot tougher and I'll have to play really well to stay with some of these guys."
Just one shot back at 68 are two-time defending West Virginia state high school medalist Thadd Obecny II, a Wheeling Park High School junior, Toronto's Eric Fisher and Rob Cimarolli, a Pittsburgh resident and another familiar name on the Ohio Valley Amateur Golf circuit.
Bryan Myers, whose opening round included a hole-in-one on No. 3, joined recent West Liberty University graduate Joey Seabright in carding 69s. Myers also recorded an ace last year (hole No. 13) on the way to winning this premier Ohio Valley golfing event for the fourth time in the last five years.
If Myers prevails in today's projected 18-hole free-for-all, he would tie Larry Lis Jr. of Avella, PA for the most Stoney Hollow Tire medal championships.
Lis can't be counted out this time either. Winner of the last five Ohio Valley Amateur Golfer of the Year Awards, Lis turned in a 1-under 70 and currently shares seventh place with Jeremy Enslen, Bart Mease and Nolan Wilson. At even-par 71 are Garth Honsaker. Joe Doerr and Bill Stebelton.
Kingora logged four front-nine birdies, holes 2, 4, 5 and 9. He then beat par at 10, 11 and 16 on the way back to the clubhouse.
''It was a solid day for me," Kingora explained. ''I hit 10 greens in regulation and birdied seven of those holes. I putted well but didn't really have to make any long putts."
Also satisfied with his round and having expectations of playing well again today is Obecny.
''I really like the Jones course and I usually play it pretty well," he said.
Both of his state high school individual championships came on the longer Jones layout, including last fall when he shot 69 and 73 for a two-day total of 142.
Obecny's ''birds" Saturday came at 2, 6 and 8 on the front side. Then, he strung together four more in five holes on the back side (12, 13, 14 and 16). He might have finished with a tie for the lead but lost a stroke to par after taking what he called a ''dumb'' bogey on the final hole.
''I started the day pretty rough but made some putts on the back nine to get myself back in it. The Palmer (course) also sets up pretty good for my game," Obecny continued. ''It's not that long and I was able to hit a lot of wedges into the greens.''
A tight race is also likely in the best-ball division of the championship flight. Three teams tied for the lead at eight-under 63 are made up of Fisher and Luke Ullom; Kingora and Dave Jamison and Obecny and Graig Tredenick. Two shots back at 65 is the team of Honsaker and Brooke Garrison.
Kingora's 67 wasn't the only four-under par round turned in Saturday. Taking a commanding lead in the First Flight medal division after also recording a 67 was former Wheeling resident Dave Johnson. Now living in the Pittsburgh area, Johnson told his playing partners that this was the best round of his life. He enters today with a seven-shot advantage over Brad Crawford. Three shots behind Crawford's 71 at three-over 74 are Rob Blubaugh, Tim Bishop and Corey Hellock.
Johnson and John Kurtz carded a 64 in the best-ball division, four shots better than the 68 posted by Hellock and Brian Cox.
Jeff Sparks and Bob Clark shot two-under par rounds of 69 for the lead in the Seniors Division. They also are on the front-running best-ball teams. Sparks and Gary Brewer finished at 66, matching the total of Clark and Mike Wilson.
The Super Seniors medal pacesetter is Gary Schrickel. His 74 stands two shots better than the 76 recorded by Mike Potts and Ron Helms. Lynn Martin and Larry Nagy currently lead the best-ball battle with a one-under total of 70. Next at 71 are teams including Don Lamb and George Anderson along with John Bailey and Mike Greene.