By Royce Thompson, Web.com Tour staff
DAVIDSON, N.C. – Hudson Swafford three-putted his final hole for par to post a five-under 67 in round one of the Chiquita Classic. He currently shares the lead with Nick O’Hern, Edward Loar and Ben Kohles.
One-stroke back at four-under are D.J. Brigman, Troy Merritt, Peter Tomasulo and Matt Davidson.
Six players are two off the pace including Michael Putnam and Jeff Klauk.
Swafford focused on fairways and greens because he knew coming out of the rough would make controlling his ball difficult. That strategy allowed the Sea Island resident the opportunity to be aggressive when he had a favorable yardage.
Swafford has struggled most of the summer and made the cut in only four of his last 12 starts on the Web.com Tour. He admitted to doing some scoreboard watching in the final stretch of the Regular Season, which put unwanted pressure on his game.
“I’ve been getting caught up in worrying about what others are doing around me,” he said. “When I commit to my game plan I play a lot better.”
Swafford missed the cut at last week’s Hotel Fitness Championship and prior to that he was forced to withdraw from the Cox Classic because of a tight IT band that flared up and made it painful for him to bend over. Even with the setbacks Swafford feels like each tournament is another opportunity to get closer to his goal of getting to the PGA TOUR.
“I’ve been close the last few weeks,” he said. “The way this is set up, you have a new chance each week.”
It’s that mindset that allows Swafford to focus on this tournament and put missing the cut last week behind him.
“Last week was a little unfortunate because it put me behind in getting a TOUR card,” he said. “The only thing I can control is this week.”
Even though O’Hern hit only seven fairways in round one, he feels that his driving problems can be easily corrected. O’hern may not be a long hitter but he did lead the TOUR in total driving throughout the season. The lefty found River Run CC comparable to Sedgefield CC in Greensboro which is on the PGA TOUR’s schedule.
“It’s nice to play a golf course where you have to be in the fairway,” he said. “The greens are very similar and the way the holes are shaped, it’s right up my alley.”
Loar relied on his putter to keep him in it on Thursday afternoon. He admitted to hitting a few wayward shots during the round but felt the flat stick allowed him to steal one.
The Texan was very pleased with the course conditions in round one and excited about how difficult it was playing out there.
“The rough is all you want,” he said. ‘You've definitely got to golf your ball around here.”
River Run Country CC is proving to be a stern test as only 45 players finished better than par in round one.
First-Round Notes & Quotes:
-- Aaron Oberholser withdrew prior to the start of the round.
-- Hudson Swafford held a share of the lead after the first round of the BMW Charity Pro-Am earlier this year.
-- Swafford currently leads the Web.com Tour in Par 3 scoring average at 2.92.
-- Bronson La’Cassie currently sits T9. La’Cassie opened the Cox Classic with a 66 in the first round that put him in a tie for eighth and would eventually win in a playoff over Matt Bettencourt.
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