Wayne Woolfall almost dropped to his knees on his final tee shot of the day.
The back pain had been increasing since his first shot of the Chattanooga Men's Metro Championship on Friday at Brainerd Golf Course. He had considered withdrawing from the tournament, but he was playing too well. A muscle relaxer and a couple of aspirin helped him through until the end.
After the first round, he leads. Woolfall shot an 8-under-par 62 with nine birdies and one bogey.
"I've only seen 62s on the TV lately," he said. "I haven't seen a 62 on my card since the 90s."
Woolfall leads University of Tennessee at Chattanooga sophomore Brooks Thomas by two strokes and Matt Robertson by three.
Pat Corey leads the two-day senior division with a 3-under 67. He leads Mitch Hufstetler, Mike Jenkins, Randy Yoder and John Williams by two shots.
The Council Fire group of Chris Schmidt, Wes Gilliland and Taylor Lewis won the Harold Lane Memorial team championship with a 12-under 58.
"We all played well. We never doubled up and we never bogeyed a hole on our team card," said Lewis, who is in a three-way tie for fourth individually with David Watts and Bob Rice at 66. "I made five birdies, Wes made three and Chris made four."
Woolfall made almost as many on his own ball while playing through a back problem that started about six months ago. He said it's a pulled muscle behind his ribs on the right side, and he also experienced back spasms throughout the day.
But he's battled various back ailments through his career.
"Look at me," he said. "I wasn't part of ESPN's 'Body Issue' magazine this year."
His round started with a birdie, then a bogey and he played the front nine at 2-under 33 (with No. 4 being played as a par-4). Then he recorded three pars and six birdies on the back nine, including a birdie on No. 18, another usual par-5 that played as a par-4.
"My only long putt was on 18," said Woolfall, who estimated he made about 60 feet worth of putts for his nine birdies. "I can't extend through the ball, so I'm hitting a lot of punch shots. And I'm hitting it close.
"As for tomorrow, I just hope I can finish."
Thomas and others will be there contending as well. Thomas, who will attempt to qualify for the U.S. Amateur on Monday, had a bogey-free round with three birdies on each side to shoot 64.
"It seems like my putter is starting to come around now," Thomas said. "I'm making the ones I think I should make."
Robertson will join Woolfall and Thomas in the last group off this afternoon at 2. Robertson had an uncharacteristic round with five birdies and zero bogeys.
"I made a bunch of two-putts even though I can't putt through a double-door right now," Robertson said. "And going bogey-free is something I don't do very often. Usually my card is a bunch of squares and circles like I'm back in geometry class."
Contact David Uchiyama at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6484. Follow him at twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP.