By Phil Stambaugh, PGA TOUR staff
GREENVILLE, S.C. – A tournament record four players, including University of South Carolina alum Mark Anderson, share the lead after the first round of the 22nd BMW Charity Pro-Am presented by SYNNEX Corporation.
In addition to Anderson, the quartet of professionals matching 9-under-par scores includes Web.com Tour rookie Franklin Corpening from Texas Christian University, Stanford’s Zack Miller and University of Georgia grad Hudson Swafford.
Six more players are knotted in fifth place, two strokes off the pace – including Clemson’s Ben Martin and Furman graduate Matt Davidson, who had the low round of the day at Greenville Country Club’s Chanticleer course.
All four of the leaders posted bogey-free rounds on Thursday with Anderson and Swafford carding their 9-under 63s on The Reserve at Lake Keowee course 35 miles west of Greenville. Corpening and Miller matched 9-under 62s at The Thornblade Club in nearby Greer, the host venue for the event.
For Anderson and Corpening, today’s rounds were easily Web.com Tour career bests while Miller’s and Swafford’s score was one stroke off their career-low number on the circuit.
Swafford birdied half of the holes on The Reserve at Lake Keowee course while Anderson strung together seven birdies and an eagle on the same layout. Miller used a pair of eagles, making a three of Nos. 5 and 15 at The Thornblade Club, en route to his 62.
“I had a really good day. I didn’t get too overly aggressive and did all of the little things,” said Swafford. “I’ve really been trying to work on my course management more so than every aspect of my game.”
Corpening’s round at Thornblade was near perfect as he hit all 13 fairways and missed just one green in regulation.
“I really didn’t miss a shot. I’ve been playing well but I was definitely surprised to get it to 9-under,” said the 28-year-old Corpening, who is conditionally exempt this year on the Web.com Tour.
This week’s BMW Charity Pro-Am uses a unique three-course celebrity pro-am format and the tournament cut will come after 54 holes on Saturday instead of the normal 36-hole cut. The low 60 and ties will play on Sunday at Thornblade Club as will the low-16 pro-am teams.
-- Thursday weather: Perfect scoring conditions with partly cloudy skies and highs in the low-80s with little wind.
-- The BMW Charity Pro-Am is the ninth of 25 events on the 2013 Web.com Tour schedule. This week’s purse is $650,000 with $117,000 going to the champion.
-- Two-time BMW Charity Pro-Am winner Shane Bertsch shot 6-under 29 on his opening nine holes at The Thornblade Club, matching the lowest 9-hole score on the Web.com Tour this year.
-- Mark Anderson on his round today: “I went to U.S. Open qualifying last week and I shot 7-under there so it was nice to get a competitive round under my belt and go low, which I knew I needed to do here at Lake Keowee. The swing feels good. If I can keep driving the ball well, which I haven’t been doing very well earlier in the year, I should be in good shape. This is one of my favorite tournaments on the Web.com Tour. I love the town and all of the golf courses up here.
-- Prior to today, the BMW Charity Pro-Am had three players tied for the opening-round lead in 2004, 2005, and 2006. The last time four or more players shared a first-round lead on the Web.com Tour was at the season-ending 2012 Tour Championship at TPC Craig Ranch.
-- Just two of the previous 21 BMW Charity Pro-Am events have been won by first-round leaders/co-leaders – Russell Beiersdorf (1992), Tripp Isenhour (2003). Only one of the first eight events on the 2013 Web.com Tour has been won by a first-round leader (Brendon Todd – Stadion Clasic at UGA).
-- Matt Davidson and his pro-am partner, Frank Luk, combined to shoot a net score of 14-under-par 58 and they lead the pro-am portion of the event after the first round.
-- Amateur Walt Dennis, a participant in the 2013 BMW Charity Pro-Am presented by SYNNEX Corporation, won a new BMW 325i when he made a hole-in-one in the first round of the tournament.
Dennis aced the 154-yard, 9th hole at the Thornblade Club, which serves as the host course in the three-course rotation being utilized for this week’s unique Web.com Tour event.
Dennis, President of HFI, LLC - an automotive interiors supplier in Columbus, Ohio - was paired with professional Adam Crawford when he knocked a 7-iron in to become the first amateur to win an automobile since BMW took over sponsorship of the tournament 13 years ago.
“I knew I hit it pretty good but I didn’t think I hit it hard enough,” said Dennis, who plays to a 2-handicap out of Scioto Country Club in Columbus and now has five career aces. “The car never entered my mind. I was giddy because my wife (Jane) was there, Ash (Hall) was there, my partner was there. I’ve been in events where there are cars given away but it’s got to be the right hole, it’s got to be the right temperature and it’s always somebody else that does it. I didn’t see a sign and so it would probably be for Sunday and the finals, that’s when they have a car.
This is pretty special. This is just huge.”
Dennis and his partner Crawford posted a team score of 8-under 63 while Crawford carded a 4-under 67 on his own ball.