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The leaderboard at the University Hospital-Utah Open was filling up fast early Friday afternoon with the names of the top golfers expected to challenge for the $20,000 first prize.

First, ex-PGA Tour player Brandt Jobe and former Utah Open winner Mike Malaska shot rounds of 68. Then another former Utah Open winner, Perry Arthur and ex-NCAA champion Warren Schutte both came in with 66s on the Willow Creek Country Club layout. For a long time it looked like no one among the afternoon players would be able to top those scores.Then late in the day along came an unknown pro from the little town of Gillette, Wyo., to grab the lead all by himself and shove the big names aside.

His name is Craig Reed, a 26-year-old who never played collegiate golf. Although he has competed on the Asian Tour and in state opens, he claims not to have had much success. When asked what his career highlights were, he replied "none," then amended it to "leading the Utah Open."

Reed came through with an impressive bogey-less round on a sunny, virtually windless afternoon at the par-72 layout. He said putting was the key as he made several putts in the 10- to 12-foot range and a couple of 18-footers.

"That was a real solid, consistent round," said Reed. "I've been hitting the ball well but not putting well at all. But the last couple of weeks, I've gotten my putter working well."

Reed birdied three par-3s, at 5, 7 and 11. He added birds at the par-5 1st and 12th holes and the par-4 14th and 18th.

While Schutte and Arthur are tied at 66, Eric Rustand, a recent graduate of BYU who just turned pro, is all alone at 67. Joining Malaska and Jobe at 68 is Arizona's Jay Pennypacker, while five golfers, Bobby Elliott, John Stollenwerck, Barry Conser, Kevin Sutherland and Utah's Kim Thompson, are at 69.

Schutte, (pronounced scoot-a) is a 22-year-old from Durban, South Africa, who besides winning the 1991 NCAA championship while at UNLV, won the 1992 Public Links Championship. He played in the 1992 U.S. Open and 1993 Masters, but hasn't done much since failing in last fall's PGA qualifier.

"Last year was a terrible year," he said. "I only tried one tour school and when I didn't make it, I was really stuck with no options."

He hadn't even played competitively for two months before showing up for a practice round Thursday. In Friday's round, Schutte chipped in twice for birdies from 30 feet at No. 11 (his second hole) and 60 yards at No. 3.

Arthur's round included a remarkable 10 birdies, including his final three holes of the day. But bogeys at 2 and 14 and a double-bogey at 15 when he "chili-dipped one into the water" spoiled what could have been a great round.

Arthur has settled into a club pro job in Dallas, but is playing his first tournament of the year.

"This is a trip I'll always make," he said. "I love it out here. I like everything about this place."

Rustand, who just turned pro two weeks ago and won $11,000 in his first tournament, played solid, with birdies on four of the five par-5s.

The 40-year-old Malaska, who won the Utah Open as a 20-year-old amateur, is back at the scene of last year's disappointment where rain canceled the tournament when he was leading on the final day.

Malaska has worked in Japan for two years, running a golf school. He said he's thought about last year's tournament "every day."

With no chances to play competitively in Japan, Malaska has played Willow Creek in his mind. While he feels mentally ready to play this week, he adds, "It's a long wait. Twelve months is a long time to wait for one tournament."

Jobe played collegiately at UCLA and on the PGA Tour in 1991. This year he finished second on the Asian Order of Merit and won the $50,000 first prize at the Thailand Open.

In Saturday's second round, Reed tees off at 9:10 a.m. and Rustand goes at 8:40 a.m., while Schutte, Arthur, Malaska and Jobe all go out in the afternoon.

OPEN NOTES: University of Utah golfer Jon Wright was low among amateurs with a 70 . . . The most popular score Friday was 74 with 22 golfers posting that number . . . The field will be cut to the low 70 scores plus ties after Saturday's round . . . Among the golfers in serious danger of missing Saturday's cut are Matt Johnson former PGA Tour player Mike Reasor , former champion Jimmy Blair , John Miller Jr. , Steve Schneiter and State Amateur champ Jeramie Montgomery . . . Fifteen-year-old Boyd Summerhays had an opening round 75 that included several three-putts . . . Willow Creek assistant Eric Nielsen threw seven birdies at the course, but only managed an even-par 72.



Utah Open leaders

Craig Reed 65

Warren Schutte 66

Perry Arthur 66

Eric Rustand 67

Brandt Jobe 68

Mike Malaska 68

Jay Pennypacker 68