It isn't often someone takes par apart the par 71 Plum Brook Country Club golf course.
However, Brian Sokol, 55, of Vermilion admittedly had the round of his life Monday in the Ohio Senior Amateur Hall of Fame Championships with a sparkling four-under-par 67 that included a sizzling 31 on the par 36 back nine.
As a result, the 55-year-old Cleveland area native has the lead in both categories — low gross and low net (64) — entering today's final 18 holes.
In addition to the overall winner, champions are crowned in six age brackets, both for gross (actual) and net.
"My best round in competition before today was a 70 and that came 13 years ago. Really, I don't play that much golf, maybe 30-33 rounds a year and I haven't won any championships on my home course, Avon Oaks," the three handicapper said.
Trying to become the 22nd different winner in the 23-year history of the event for top amateurs in Ohio ages 50 and over, Sokol carries a two-stroke advantage over Fremont's Buck Baumann and Jeff Sparks, the 2007 champion who fired a 67 on his way to winning the abbreviated tournament which was a one-day affair because of inclement weather.
Baumann clicked off 35-34 for his 69 and Sparks turned in 34-35.
John Zitcovic, of Findlay, is alone in third place with 37-33--70, while Rick Macklin, Circleville, and Tim Ford, Lewis Center, shared fourth at even par 71. Macklin carded 34-37 and Ford 37-34 over the par 35-36 layout.
Four are tied at 72. They are Doug Lockwood, of Powell, Randy Reifers, Columbus and Craig Camalo, of Ann Arbor, Mich. Camalo, a newcomer, had 34 putts in his round, and bogeyed the 18th hole.
In with 73s were Mike Cassell, Hudson, and former champion Bob Lewis, Jr., of Pepper Pike.
There is a logjam of eight players at 74 and that includes tournament chairman Craig Soule (Port Clinton) and Sandusky's Jim Boling and Bruce Boissoneault.
Also in that group is Alan Fadel, of Toledo, who was inducted into the Ohio Golf Hall of Fame Monday night at the awards banquet, with John Cook, of Columbus, the late Frank Stranahan, of Toledo and Don Nist, of Canton.
In addition, 2013 champion TJ Brudzinski, of Columbus, who beat Chris Sabo, of Cincinnati, in a sudden death playoff after both players broke the tournament mark of 136 with 134 totals, came in with 74.
Soule is the only local player to win a title, in 2009.
Sokol reviewed his round.
"My round was like a tale of two nines. I had 36 going out and hit the ball within eight to 10 feet of the cup and did not make my putts. Then, on the back nine, it was just the opposite and I made just about everything. I had birdies on Nos. 12, 13, 16, 17 and 18. The one on 12 was a big surprise when my ball went over a hill, made a big 90 degree swing, and wound up in the cup. That started it all at that point," Sokol said. He also birdied No. 6 with a two-putt green on the short par-five hole.
"The first hole was the key in my mind. I hit the ball under the trees to about 140 yards from the green, hit my second shot short then had a 16-footer for my par which I drained. If I missed, I would have had a long way back, it was going that fast," Sokol said.
"I bogeyed the easiest hole on the course, No. 5, when I went into the bunker, chipped out but then missed a four-foot downhiller for my par.
"Last year was my first time here and I remember shooting 78 and 79 and this was actually only the third time I've played here. All I can do is come back (today) and play the best I can because there are a lot of very good golfers behind me. I was told about this tournament and now I know that people meant it when they said I was going to play with some of the best amateurs ever to play this game," Sokol added.
Sokol's employment is centered around Inventative Medicine.
Sparks had an easy time explaining his round.
"It was quite simple," he said. "I birdied the first and last hole and had 16 straight pars in between, but it wasn't that easy, that's for sure."
As for Baumann, his round consisted of birdies on Nos. 3, 13, 16 and 17 with two bogies.
Zitcovic talked about his 70.
"I had three bogies on the first five holes before I got going and was three under on the back."