NORMAL — Mike Aslinger and Bryan Mounce have advanced to the Bloomington-Normal Two-Man Best Position Tournament's championship flight the last three years.
They are well aware of their 0-3 record.
"We're not going to play that game this time," said Aslinger.
Mounce quickly agreed. "It's time to start winning," he said.
If Thursday's round is any indication, the Aslinger-Mounce duo could be ready for a breakthrough. Spurred by two eagles, they fired a 14-under-par 57 in the first of three qualifying days at Weibring Golf Club at Illinois State.
"Our goal was double digits," said Aslinger, the Normal Community High School girls golf coach. "We thought that would be a good round."
First-time partners Zach Lancaster and Aaron Elzy played their last six holes in 6-under, thanks to an eagle at No. 15, to come in with 59. Doug Claunch and J.D. Dudgeon were next with 62.
Four teams shot 63s — the father-son duo of Gary and Bryan Brucker, brothers Adam and Clayton Baracani, Shad Lindsey and Andy Schuster and best friends Brandon Hendricks and Dylan Panizo. There were 33 teams in the open division Thursday.
Tim Kerfoot and Greg Powell fired 64 to take the senior division lead.
Qualifying continues Friday and concludes Saturday. Anyone still interested in playing can sign up for an open tee time. Saturday's last tee time is noon.
Aslinger and Mounce rolled in a couple long putts, including a 40-footer by Mounce on No. 11, that keyed their round.
"We've been working hard on our putting. Tee to green I think we can play with anybody," said Mounce. "Our putting has always been suspect."
They birdied Nos. 2-5 before Aslinger hit a 3-wood onto the par-5 sixth and drained the 20-foot eagle putt. They followed that up with a nice par-saving 8-footer at the par-3 seventh.
"It was huge to keep the momentum," said Mounce.
Another birdie at No. 9 gave them a 7-under 29 on the front side. The back nine began with a bang as Mounce two-hopped a 55-yard approach into the cup for an eagle on the 10th.
Aslinger said they "tried to ruin our round" on the par-5 13th when they weren't on the green in three. Mounce's chip was short on the fringe before Aslinger made it for a surprising birdie.
"That might have been a two-shot swing," said Aslinger.
A birdie on No. 15 was followed by two pars before Aslinger put an exclamation point on the round by sinking a 20-foot downhill birdie putt on the 18th. Their 57 was a stroke off the Two-Man qualifying record at Weibring Golf Club set by David Marquardt and Ryan Meier in 2006.
"We had a lot of 15-20 foot putts and made a lot of them. It was all about putting," said Aslinger. "If he didn't make them, he was rolling it close and gave me a great line. We knew what to do. Sometimes they just fall."
Lancaster and Elzy made the turn at 5-under and birdied No. 10 before pars on the next two holes. Then came two birdies before Elzy chipped in for a 2 on the par-4 15th.
“We were just trying to make pars once we got to 10-under,” said Elzy. “We knew those last three holes were tough.”
Elzy hit it close for a short birdie putt on No. 17 before Lancaster made a solo birdie on the 18th, sinking a 15-foot putt.
“He was just running out of gas, so I thought …,” said Lancaster, laughing. “We didn't even hit it that great (all day). We just hit it on the green and made some putts.”
Like Aslinger and Mounce, Claunch and Dudgeon also will be trying to break a three-year championship flight losing streak. They got to 9-under after 13 before finishing with five straight pars.