Rubinsak and Keels lead after opening day of the 43rd Annual Slavic Invitational

Gilbert Rubinsak of Biloxi tees off at a past Mississippi State Amateur golf tournament at Windance Country Club in Gulfport.
Gilbert Rubinsak of Biloxi tees off at a past Mississippi State Amateur golf tournament at Windance Country Club in Gulfport. Sun Herald/File

The teams of Gilbert Rubinsak and Jamie Keels and Leach and Roberts fired 11-under 61’s in Friday’s opener of the 43rd Annual Slavic Invitational to take a one-shot lead over 2016 champions George Byrd and Nick Beale and the team of Waggoner and Waggoner (62).

Steven Bozeman and Warren Hood are two shots back after a 63 along with James Rentrop and Chris Marro.

Josh Lampley and Colin Speirs cruised to an 8-under after nine birdies and a lone bogey on the short par-4 8th to tie for 6th at 64 along with Nace and Pizzatola.

Neither one of us played great, but we just hung in there and turned in a decent score,” said Lampley who is looking for his first Slavic win. “We’ve finished 2nd a couple times, but we’ve never won.” Lampley recently teamed with Brandon Laird to qualify for the 2018 USGA 4-Ball that will be played in May at Jupiter Hills in Jupiter, Florida.

The 2014 State Amateur Champion Nick Beale was on fire the entire day. “I made some big putts all day,” said Beale. “I just saw the line all day.” George birdied 15, and Beale added birdies on 16, 17, 18, and 1 to finish the round. “The greens were perfect, and I just seemed to see the ball going into the hole,” added Beale. Beale has won the Slavic three times, once with business partner Mike Lawson and twice with Byrd.

Two-time Slavic champion Jimmy Wallis might have had the round of the day on the Cardinal Course had it not been for a few bogies. Wallis made eagle on the par-4 6th after his 75-yard approach found the bottom of the hole.

He followed that with another eagle on Hole 16 after a booming drive left him 30 yards from the green. “I haven’t been hitting my chips very well, so I didn’t even fluff it up,” said the longtime Sunkist member and former Ole Miss quarterback. He and his partner Bob Peden shot 66 to stay in the hunt.

Scott Jackson and Brandon Laird shot 65 at Sunkist Friday afternoon to stay within striking distance along with Steve Wilson and Keith Fayard.

John Clark and Jay Lang had a front row seat for the Nick Beale Show at the Cardinal Course. “He is unbelievable,” Clark said. “Jay or I could have been his partner today and shot 62.” Of course the Pass Christian Isles icon was exaggerating, but maybe not. “George played great when he had to,” added Clark.

The leaders will again play the Cardinal and Sunkist CC today and move to Fallen Oak on Sunday. Over 500 teams enjoyed perfect weather on Friday, more of the same is the forecast for the weekend.