Defending champion Stephanie Johns appears on her way to a second consecutive Rogue Valley Stroke Play Championships ladies title.

Defending champion Stephanie Johns appears on her way to a second consecutive Rogue Valley Stroke Play Championships ladies title.

The Ashland resident and Portland State University redshirt junior golfer set a course record on the opening day of the 36-hole tournament at Centennial Golf Club on Saturday.

Johns, 21, shot a round of 68 to break the previous record of 69 set by Ashlee Pickerell during the Oregon Golf Association junior tournament last summer.

In the men's open championship flight, four-time winner Brooks Newsom of Portland is tied for first with Mark Wilson of Roseburg with a 1-over par 73. Newsom has won two of the past three tournaments, including last year.

Mike Barry is tied for second with Glen Clark and Kevin Klabunde, one stroke back.

Ken Peterson carded a 75 to take the lead in the seniors division, while Bill Doss posted a 70 for a one-stroke lead over Bob Harrell in the super seniors.

The event, which has also been known as the city championship, concludes today with the final 18 holes at Centennial.

Johns, who's been working at Centennial while on school break, has backed off from a rigorous golf schedule this summer.

"I haven't been playing everyday," said Johns. "This is my third tournament this summer. That's all I've done."

Johns came into the tournament refreshed from a lighter playing schedule. The former Ashland High standout has a comfortable eight-stroke lead over Linda Johnson.

"I've been playing well the last few weeks so it was nice for it to all come together," said Johns. "I know this course pretty well. My whole game was extremely solid today. I was hitting my irons well."

On the men's side, Newsom also used good iron play to tie for the lead after the first day. Newsom had two birdies and a pair of bogeys for an even-par 36 on the front. The defending champion had eight straight pars before bogeying No. 18 for a 37 on the backside.

"I struggled off the tee and didn't make a lot of putts," explained Newsom. "I ended up making a lot of pars. The greens are really firm and fast."

Barry, who is coming off an appearance in the U.S. Amateur at Pinehurst, N.C., last week, had some difficulties earlier in the round.

"I'm working on a few things with my swing and was trying it out on the front nine," said Barry. "Then I went back to what I'm comfortable with after that."

Barry opened the back nine with a bogey, then found a groove and birdied three of the next six holes. Unfortunately, he bogeyed the final hole.

"I started putting the ball better and hitting my irons," said Barry about his turnaround. "I got unlucky on the 18th. I had a tough lie in the bunker, then hit to the front of the green. I just lipped out the putt. It wasn't disappointing the way I finished."

Barry, who played golf at the University of San Diego before transferring to Oregon State last spring, is playing in the city championship for the first time. The former state prep champion for North Medford High is comfortable with his position on the leaderboard.

"I feel if I go out and play the way I could," said Barry, "I should be competing for the win."

Saturday's Leaders

At Centennial Golf Club

Par 72

Championship Divisions

MENS OPEN — Brooks Newsom 73, Mark Wilson 73, Kevin Klabunde 74, Glen Clark 74, Mike Barry 74, Jay Klemp 75, Kyle Oldfield 77, Justin Wise 77, Todd Neilson 77, Dan Keck 78

SENIORS — Ken Peterson 75, Tom Jarvis 76, Don Sever 77, Chuck Grytness 77, Greg Miller 78, Bob Dickey 79, Pat Daggitt 80, Kurt Waldmann 80, Craig Galpern 80, Gene Allred 80, Tom McCracken 80.

SUPER SENIORS — Bill Doss 70, Bob Harrell 71, Duane Nelson 76, Doug Rowe 76, David Oas 80, Tom Loding 80

LADIES — Stephanie Johns 68, Linda Johnson 76, Kathy Pauck 82, Tracy Armitage 86, Pam Turnipseed 87.