FARMINGTON, Pa. -- It's hard to imagine what would have been a more fitting setting for the first round of the Falling Rock Classic.
Set at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort's Mystic Rock, the opening holes were backdropped by threatening weather that kept each players' game honest and rounds high.
Johnathon Clark of Sleepy Hollow Golf Club in Hurricane, W.Va., and Adam Corson of Dick's Sporting Goods emerged from the mostly dry pack as the leaders in the two-day event after each pulled down a 4-under 68 in the first round.
Nipping at their heels was 2011 champion John Aber, who came in with a 69.
Aber birdied holes 3, 5, 7, 8 and 16 in the wet conditions to stay in contention.
"It's just a hard course," he said. "It's visually intimidating. You make one bad swing and you're going to make a bad number, you know?"
Despite the slew of below average scores -- just eight golfers were able to shoot under par -- Aber said he plans on keeping his game the same for the final round.
The rains came and went throughout the day. The greens were slick and the rough was brutal.
The tournament features 75 players who range from Oakmont Country Club to Marshall University, all of whom struggled to find a groove with a tough breeze that rarely wavered.
It wasn't so much the weather that made the tournament seem ominous as much as the wide-open course that reflected who could come out on top.
In the past nine tournaments, there has only been one two-time winner: Butler's Rob McClellan, who finished first in consecutive years in 2009 and 2010.
McClellan kept himself relevant for the final day as he was lucky enough to escape with an even-par 72.
Other local golfers who penciled in notable first-round scores were Kevin Shields, the reigning champion, who also came in at even par, and Ryan Sikora, coach at Seton Hill University, who shot 2-under 70.
The final round is today. The first-place prize is $6,500.
R.J. Schaffer: Rschaffer@post-gazette.com and Twitter @rjschaffer.