Beaufort News

Epperson near top at Nationwide event despite unfamiliar surroundings

When he stepped up to the 10th tee at Southpointe Golf Club for his first shot of the Nationwide Tour's Mylan Classic, Hilton Head Island's Chris Epperson wasn't sure what to expect from the course, because he had never played it.

By the time he finished his round Thursday, Epperson liked what he saw -- on the course and on the leaderboard.

Playing only his third Nationwide Tour event, Epperson carded a 5-under-par 66 and is tied for second, two shots behind leader Josh Broadaway. The round was delayed by thunderstorms, preventing some players from completing their rounds.

"I was a little worried, seeing as how I didn't have a practice round and the course is pretty tough," said Epperson, who didn't learn he was in the field for the tournament in Canonsburg, Pa., until Tuesday and wasn't able to get on the course Wednesday because of a pro-am event.

He was quickly put to ease by birdies at the par-5 11th and 13th holes, and he kept the momentum going with a couple of strokes of luck -- a chip-in birdie at the par-4 16th and a 50-foot bomb for birdie at the par-4 17th. Epperson made two bogeys on his second nine, but he closed with back-to-back birdies to take the clubhouse lead for a couple of hours until Broadaway finished.

With thick rough putting a premium on accuracy -- one of Epperson's strengths -- he likes his chances of continuing his strong play into the weekend.

"Part of my advantage is I hit a lot of fairways and greens," Epperson said. "As long as I putt decent on a course like this, I think I can hang in there."