ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) -- The 2019 Delta Dental State Open of Virginia kicked off at Ballyhack Golf Club on Thursday.
The morning groups wrapped up just as the heat really started to take hold, and multiple players with local roots made some noise on day one.
Chip Sullivan, the former pro at Ashley Plantation in Boutetourt County now serving as the GM at Royal New Kent outside of Richmond, carded a 2-over 74 for the day.
A couple of groups later, two local amateurs were looking to finish strong.
Ross Funderburke, a recent Hidden Valley graduate, was unhappy with his attempt on the 18th green after a beautiful approach. He wrapped up at 1-over 73.
In the same group, Blacksburg's Christopher Zhang, lined up a par attempt at 18 that went wide left. Two bogeys all day bookended an otherwise sparkling round for the VSGA State Am runner-up, who entered the clubhouse among the leaders with a 4-under 68.
"Gave myself a short 7-footer for birdie and I really had a good chance to make it, get another par and finish at 5-under, but missed it," Zhang said.
"68's not bad but every shot I can get, I mean, I'm going to need every shot this week. I think the course is very gettable so I don't think I'll be leading by the end of this round. There's going to be someone coming in shooting 6- or 7-under today. There's a lot of birdies to be had."
And he was right on the money, as just a few groups later, Zhang's lead was overtaken by Fredericksburg native Mason Stutler.
The assistant pro at Kinloch Golf Club near Richmond carded a 7-under 65, birdieing five holes on the front nine and setting himself up nicely for the rest of the week.
"I'm excited. I've never been in this position before. This is my first time playing in the State Open," Stutler said. "Never played in it growing up, even though I'm from the Fredericksburg area. I've never had this opportunity, so I'm just going to enjoy it. Just a lot of golf left, a lot of really good players here and I'm just going to try and have fun and see what we can do."
First round play was suspended at 4:17 p.m. due to inclement weather. The tournament is scheduled to run through Saturday.
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