By Rick Brown, Des Moines Register
Playing a par-73 course doesn’t do much for a golfer’s ego.
"(A round) doesn’t look as good," Jon Olson said. "Not quite as sexy. But hey, that’s OK."
Olson opened defense of his Iowa Open championship by shooting a 5-under-par 68 on the South Course of the Des Moines Golf and Country Club on Thursday.
"I’ll take it," said the Ankeny pro, who finished a shot ahead of two-time Iowa Open champion Sean McCarty and Asian Tour veteran Jason Knutzon.
Olson said Thursday was a perfect day for him. He left himself with yardages that he was comfortable with, adding confidence to his recent success.
"Everything set up perfectly for full swings," Olson said.
His best example came at the par-3 15th hole, where Olson hit a 5-iron to 2 inches and tapped in for birdie.
Olson started his round on the back nine and had five birdies in the first seven holes. He shot 32 on the back nine after a bogey at the 17th, then came home in 36 with two more birdies and a bogey.
McCarty, the Iowa Open winner in 1997 and 2005, played the South’s five par-5 holes in 5 under par.
"Thank God for par-5s," said McCarty, who was paired with Olson.
McCarty eagled No. 13 with a driver, a 5-iron and a 20-foot putt. He also birdied three of the other four par-5s. McCarty had just one bogey, at No. 18.
Knutzon was playing his first competitive round since missing the cut at the PGA Tour’s John Deere Classic in Silvis, Ill., the second week of July. The Altoona pro had surgery on his left shoulder in May.
"I’m probably at 80 percent," said Knutzon, 32.
Knutzon said that he worked so hard to get ready for his PGA Tour opportunity that he might have put too much strain on that shoulder.
He had a strain-free front nine Thursday, carding four birdies to make the turn in 4-under 33.
"I faltered a little bit coming in," Knutzon said. "I got it to 5 under after No. 11, but I didn’t birdie either of the downwind par-5s (13, 16) coming in and made a bogey at the (par-3) 17th."
Knutzon has won twice on the Asian Tour, and he plans to return there this fall.
"My wife (Rustina) is expecting in a few weeks," Knutzon said. "I’ll return to Asia a few weeks after that, assuming everything is OK."
Knutzon will return from Asia for the first stage of qualifying for the PGA Tour in late October.
The Iowa Open field will be cut to the low 70 players and ties after today’s second round. The final round will be played Saturday.