April 12 2012
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. -- Harbour Town has always been one of the toughest tests on the PGA TOUR. It showed in spades on Thursday.
With blustery conditions for most of the day, only 23 players broke par on the 7,100-yard par-71 layout and no one went lower than 4 under. Colt Knost joined Chad Campbell and Vaughn Taylor at that number after birdies on two of his final three holes.
Jim Furyk, who won here two years ago, is a shot back after a 68.
“The weatherman was spot on; it was chilly, quite breezy and gusty this morning,” Furyk said. “I’m happy to get in with the score I did. I thought anything at even par or better would be a good round this morning.”
It turned out there weren’t too many scores under par in the afternoon, either.
The temperature rose and the wind lessened as the day wore on, but it again got chilly late in the round.
Firm greens also contributed to high scores.
“The greens are stressed right now,” Furyk said. “They looked dusty [on Wednesday]. I was quite taken aback. It did look like a late Sunday afternoon.”
It played like it, too.
Harbour Town played to an average score of 72.95, nearly a full two strokes under par. The par-3 14th played as the most difficult hole with an average of nearly 3.5.
“It’s very difficult,” said Taylor, who eagled his final hole of the day, the par-4 ninth, by holing out from 100 yards with a sand wedge. Taylor has twice finished fourth here and is in the field on a sponsor exemption. “You’ve just got to kind of grind it out. I fortunately did a good job of that.”
So did John Daly, who finished with a 69.
Others weren’t so fortunate.
Luke Donald struggled with his putting and shot 74.
Should Donald finish outside the top 8 here, he would lose his spot atop the Official World Golf Ranking. He’s tied for 103rd after the first round.
Brian Gay, who was 20 under in his victory here in 2009, also shot 74.
Fred Funk and Sang-Moon Bae failed to break 80, shooting 81 and 83, respectively. Bae later withdrew with a shoulder injury.