Nate Crowley of Nabnasset CC watches his tee shot from the second tee at Vesper CC during the opening round of the Lowell City Golf Tournament. (Photo by James Thomas)

LOWELL — There will be plenty of unexpected twists and turns in the final two rounds.

But after the opening round of the 99th Lowell City Tournament at Vesper Country Club on Wednesday, there are two certainties.

First, the results will be better. Golfers will have an easier time now that Vesper, the most difficult of the three courses, has already had its try on the 48-player field.

Second, Mother Nature has already done her best. Yes, rain showers are possible at Mt. Pleasant on Friday and Long Meadow on Saturday, but golfers and spectators will be much more comfortable after Wednesday's sweltering temperatures.

It's difficult to score many birdies when the fairways feel like blast furnaces.

Only one player, 19-year-old Trevor Drew of Long Meadow, played even par against Vesper. Drew's 72 was impressive, but there are plenty of challengers right behind him.

From William Adie of Vesper, who is one stroke back, to defending champion Brandon Gillis of Nabnasset Lake, who will start Friday three strokes behind Drew.

There are plenty of great stories to tell, but none are better than Cities legend Phil Smith's appearance at the top of the leaderboard. Representing Long Meadow, Smith shot an impressive 2-over 74 to turn heads on the scoreboard.

Smith has won the event eight times but has not won a Cities title since 2012. Back then, it seemed as though he would lift the trophy every year, with 2012 being his seventh consecutive title, a feat never achieved in the event's illustrious history.

Another legend in the field, Doug Parigian of Long Meadow, won five in a row at one point, but Smith's seven consecutive victories will probably never be matched.

At the beginning of the tournament, all the excitement revolved around Smith's daughters Morgan and Molly and the question of whether they would both finish in the top ten again.

The Smith girls have played well under pressure as always and Molly (76) and Morgan (77) are in the running with full commitment. But don't forget the old man. He knows Mt. Pleasant and Long Meadow like the best.

What you should pay attention to

Don't be surprised if a certain two-time champion from Mt. Pleasant makes a big comeback.

Chris Gentle shot just 80 in the first round and now sits eight shots back in the midfield. Last year's runner-up knows every inch of his home course of Mt. Pleasant and will be motivated to climb the leaderboard when he walks down Staples Street to start his day.

Nabnasset's hopes of four consecutive championship titles likely rest on Gillis, the 2021 and 2023 champion. Mike Walker and Nick Wilder opened with 78 and 79, respectively. 2022 champion Chris Herrick is now a member of Vesper. He opened with 82.

Vesper showed in the opening round that it is determined to reclaim its team title. Mt. Pleasant broke Vesper's 19-year winning streak last year, but the Tyngs Isle golfers have built a big lead after the first round.

Vesper (844) has a big lead over Long Meadow (872), Nabnasset (888) and Mt. Pleasant (902).

Start times

Here are the start times for the second round on Friday:

12.00: Tyler Schermerhorn (MP), Chris Lerra (Nab), Colin Underwood (MP).

12:09 pm: Nate Crowley (LM), Matt Asselin (MP), Cam Sheedy (Nab).

12:18 pm: Eric Young (Nab), Mike Corbin (MP), Doug Paragian (LM).

12:27 pm: Robb Burndrett (Nab), Jack Ryan (Nab), Matt Tramonte (LM).

12:36 pm: Reed Bourgeois (LM), Dean Trahan (MP), Patrick Cote (LM).

12:45 p.m.: Trevor Green (MP), Chris Herrick (V), George Popp (V).

12:54 pm: Rick Moreau (Nab), Jason Howarth (MP), Brian Corbett (MP).

13:03: Mike Schnyer (Nab), Chris Gentle (MP), Eric Quinn (LM).

13:12: George Vergados (LM), Ben Asselin (MP), Dave Walshe (Nab).

13:21: Andrew Mierzwa (MP), Connor Calhoun (V), Chris Wachel (V).

1.30 p.m.: Mike Walker (Nab), John DeVito (V), Nick Wilder (Nab).

13:39: Nate Sayer (LM), Morgan Smith (LM), Griffin Brown (V).

13:48: Molly Smith (MP), Colin Pickett (LM), Daniel Villemaire (V).

13:57: Brandon Gillis (Nab), Andrew Young (V), Travis Kellegrew (Nab).

14:06: Phil Smith (LM), Ryan Brogan (V), Andrew Conway (V).

2:15 p.m.: Trevor Drew (LM), William Adie (V), Jeffrey Corbett (V).

Andrew Conway of Vesper Country Club chips out of the rough on the first hole during the first round of the Lowell City Golf Tournament on Wednesday. (Photo by James Thomas)
Andrew Conway of Vesper Country Club chips out of the rough on the first hole during the first round of the Lowell City Golf Tournament on Wednesday. (Photo by James Thomas)

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