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New Mexico Open is under way, with 41 players at par or better

Notah Begay putts during his round of 1-over-par 71 on Tuesday, the first day of the Paradise Hills New Mexico Open. Play continues Wednesday. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal

A field of 156 players finished the first round Tuesday of the Paradise Hills New Mexico Open, the state’s major golf championship.

Of those, 41 shot par or better – and three share the lead – setting up the second round Wednesday at Paradise Hills Golf Course. (See the leaderboard here.)

At a distinctly New Mexican venue, however, it’s three out-of-state players who shared the lead after firing 5-under first-round 65s.

Of those, Edward Olson of Aptos, California, eagled the par-5 17th hole and finished the back nine with a sizzling 31 – and that’s after giving up a stroke with a bogey at No. 18.

His co-leaders are Brandon Bauman of Las Vegas, Nevada, who went 4-under 30 on the front nine, and Andrew Presley of Fort Worth.

But the co-leaders have no separation. Six more golfers are tied at 4-under 66, including Juan Benetiz, who sank seven birdies. And there are 10 golfers at 3-under – including Wil Collins of Albuquerque, tops among the local notables.

Among other past champions in the field, defending champion Sam Saunders went 2-under on Tuesday. He is coming off recent wins at the Colorado Open and Utah Open.

Saunders shares a spot on the board at 2-under with Rio Rancho’s Tim Madigan and former Lobo star recently turned pro, Sean Carlon.

Other local golfers of note include Albuquerque’s David Muttitt at 1-under 69 and D.J. Brigman at 3-over 74.

Past winners of the event include Lee Trevino, Paul Stankowski and Charlie Beljan.

The field is competing for a purse of $85,000 that includes a first-place check of $14,000.

Play resumes today with tee times from 7:30 a.m. to 2:10 p.m. at holes No. 1 and No. 10.

Begay tees off in that late slot with playing partners Pablo Rincon Gallardo and Timothy Paiz. Brigman and Saunders are in a threesome teeing off at 8:40 a.m. on No. 10.

Sam Saunders watches his iron shot during his first-round 2-under 68 on Tuesday. He was one of 41 players in the 156-player field to shoot par or better.

The final round is Thursday.

Updated scoring and pairings can be found online at and throughout the day.

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