LOWELL -- Doug Parigian teed it up in the Lowell City Tournament for the 36th time on Friday. His perspective is definitely different now at age 55, than it was at, say, 25.
"As I get older and I don't shoot as good scores anymore, my goal is always to shoot a perfect round, which would be 18 birdies. So I like to try to shoot 54," Parigian said with a smile. "That's how I start off every round. I really can't play as good as I used to. So I try and shoot 54. When you get old, it's a little bit different."
Parigian's easy-going attitude paid off on Friday at Mt. Pleasant Golf Club in the first round of the 89th City Tournament. The Lowell attorney and Long Meadow member fired a 1-under 71 to lead the three-round tourney after Day 1.
A low score seemed there for the taking on a comfortable sun-filled afternoon. The greens were a bit firm and there was a little wind, but that didn't stop Parigian from driving fairway after fairway. He made three bogeys and four birdies on his round.
Parigian, of course, has been here before.
He has won a record 10 City championships over four decades. His first came in 1978 and his most recent was in 2003. He shot a 65 in this tourney 21 years ago.
When Parigian was announced as the day's medalist, it drew a loud cheer from the large gallery.
"I played pretty well compared to how I've been playing," said Parigian. "I drove the ball really well and made a couple of putts, and I missed some, too. The pins were tough so I knew it would be a tough day to shoot a real low score. But 71 is pretty good."
Parigian will take a one-stroke lead into Saturday's second round at Long Meadow. Defending champ Shawn Scott (Long Meadow) shot even-par 72. Scott Pare was next with a 73, followed by former Lowell High standout Chris Gentle with a 74. Both represent Mount Pleasant.
Eight-time champion Phil Smith (Vesper) shot a 75, as did Mike Walker (Nabnasset). A total of 19 golfers had a round below 80.
Smith won seven straight from 2006-12 before Scott snapped the streak last year. As usual, many eyes were following Smith to see if he could set the early tone for the tournament.
He shot 39 on the front, thanks to three bogeys. But Smith rebounded with an even-par 36 on the back. He chipped in for eagle on the 14th.
"The way the course played, it was a pretty good score," Smith said. "The course was hard. But I've got to play better, that's the bottom line. It was a nice day, a little breezy. It was a typical City course. You never know what you're going to play like in the first round. You have to do the best you can and keep plugging.
"I always feel a lot of pressure in this tournament. I've come in a little bumpier the past couple of years. I just have to play better. I'm just not getting it close enough, not getting it close enough on the par 5s. It's hard to score with what I was doing (Friday)."
Each of the four clubs are represented by 12 golfers. Vesper leads the team competition with 864, followed by Mount Pleasant (873), Long Meadow (887) and Nabnasset (898).
Mount Pleasant's Gary Walsh finished with a 77, despite double bogeys on the first and the 10th. Walsh lives on Staples Street, down the road from Mount Pleasant. He finished second in the City Tournament in 1995 to Parigian.
Walsh is playing in his first City Tournament since 1998. He relocated to Florida for 14 years due to work, but recently moved back to Lowell.
"It feels great. It was a grind getting back into the tournament," said Walsh. "It's fun to feel those juices flowing again. I missed this tournament."
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