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October 17 2013

8:33 PM

Thursday observations

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Davis Love III still has the length to compete on the PGA TOUR.

By Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent

LAS VEGAS -- Some players fall into the “comfort zone” trap while playing on the PGA TOUR. A golfer gets 5 under and tends to go into a four-corner offense trying to protect that number. That strategy will not work this week. If you are comfortable with your number, you are not in contention. When players get 5 under at TPC Summerlin they must consider their work only half done. J.J. Henry shot 4 under on his first nine holes and came home with a 28 to shoot a personal-best 60. This is a great week for players to set a goal of posting a personal best score. That’s what it usually takes to win in Las Vegas.

Observations

Wedge play: Bryce Molder stood in the 16th fairway cursing his luck. He had hit what he thought was a good drive, only to have it take a bad bounce into a bad lie. Molder could not go for the 525-yard par 5 in two and was faced with a bad number for his wedge. Molder was 126 yards from the flagstick, just at the far end for his wedge, but the strike was pure and the shot was on line as Molder looked up to steal his first glance on the follow through. He started to shout, “Go in” or “Get close,” but did not want to jinx the shot. So Molder watched in silence as the 126-yard wedge went into the cup for an eagle. He followed up with birdies at Nos. 17 and 18 and went on to shoot a 6-under 65. If not for that bad bounce on the drive, Molder may not have eagled the 16th hole.

Eagles: It did not take long for the assault on the 15th hole to begin. The par 4 measured 301 yards in the opening round and Sean O’Hair, who teed off on the 10th hole at 8:01 a.m., scored the first eagle, hitting his drive to 5 feet, 9 inches. The 15th gave up a record 10 eagles in 2012 and surrendered three on Thursday.

Surgery: Oct. 29 will mark the one-year anniversary of Jonathan Byrd’s wrist surgery. He’s playing on a major medical exemption and is off to a good start in Vegas with an 8-under 63. Byrd is a former champion who scored a hole-in-one in the 2010 playoff to win. He says he recalls that shot often, but the round tends to unroll in his mind in the order of his shots played, with Byrd remembering critical par putts and birdies that got him into the playoff. The hole-in-one is a nice memory, but it’s always the last thing he recalls of that special week.

Happy birthday: Davis Love III turns 50 in April of 2014 but says it will make little difference with his schedule. The 20-time champion intends to put all his effort into the PGA TOUR with intentions of making both the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola and the Ryder Cup team. Love still possesses plenty of length to win on TOUR; he averaged 311.0 yards per drive in the first round. Putting is what holds Love back. He hit 16 greens on Thursday, but took 35 putts. Love said he was actually encouraged with his stroke, saying he did not give himself many makeable putts, hitting it to an average of 35 feet from the hole.

Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here.

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