By Joe Cheymcz, Web.com Tour staff
RALEIGH, N.C. – Rookie Andrew Putnam matched the course record with a 9-under 62 Thursday and moved into the lead after the opening round of the Rex Hospital Open. Putnam, 26, was nearly flawless during his tour of the TPC Wakefield Plantation course, hitting every green in regulation and 12 of 14 fairways.
Raleigh native Chesson Hadley had owned the clubhouse for most of the day after posting an 8-under 63 in the morning.
Seven players -- Lee Janzen, Kent Jones, Randall Hutchison, Cameron Beckman, Miguel Carballo, Jason Gore and Alex Aragon – all share third place with 6-under 65s.
“I felt it in me but you have to have the putts drop for a round like this,” said Putnam, who one-putted only six times in the round and had a total of 30 putts. “I had a lot of looks at birdie and managed to roll a few in.”
Putnam also took advantage of the par-5s, playing the three holes at TPC in 5-under.
“It makes things pretty easy playing those par-5s like that,” he said after rolling in eagle putts of three and eight feet as well as a two-putt birdie.
Putnam, No. 44 on the money list, finally had a chance to overtake his older brother Michael, a two-time winner on Tour this year and the leading money winner, who shot a 3-under 68.
“I don’t know if you’d call it a friendly rivalry, it’s brotherly,” said Andrew, a junior by six years to Michael. “Deep down, we like to beat each other. You always want to beat your friends and family members but we’re rooting for each other too.”
It seems like everyone is rooting for Hadley, who has been in the media spotlight much of the week. The 25-year old Georgia Tech rookie has been red-hot the past month and is No. 9 on the money list despite missing the cut at last week’s Air Capital Classic in Wichita, Kan.
“Honestly, I didn’t really care how I played last week. It was about getting ready for this week, period,” he said. “This is kind of a home course for me because I live in Raleigh. I could not have pictured a better start to the week.”
Hadley chalked up four birdies on each nine as he not only matched his season-low score but also put together his first bogey-free round this season.
“Golf is not easy. It never will be. You’ve just got to grind it out. It’s all about staying patient,” said Hadley, who hosted Putnam Tuesday night as part of a bible study group. “If I just keep it going and stay focused and patient hopefully we’ll be there come Sunday. There’s a lot of ground to cover between now and then.”
First-Round Notes & Quotes:
-- Thursday weather: Partly cloudy. Wind NE 5-10 mph. High of 81.
-- James Hahn defeated Scott Parel in a playoff last year for his first career win. The two players finished regulation play at 13-under 271.
-- Looking ahead to Friday’s round: last year’s 36-hole leader was 10-under par and the 36-hole cut came at 2-under par. A total of 58 players are currently at 2-under 69 or better.
-- Andrew Putnam’s 62 tied the course record. Former North Carolina Tarheel Rob Bradley set the mark in the final round in 2003 and Scott Brown matched that in the first round in 2010.
-- Chesson Hadley’s 63 Thursday matched the low round of his rookie season. Hadley also posted an 8-under 63 at the Thornblade Club in the final round of the BMW Charity Pro-Am in Greenville, S.C.
-- Scott Parel, runner-up here a year ago and coming off his first career win in Wichita last week, wasn’t perfect during his round (6 of 14 fairways) but knew there was no need to panic.
“This course sets up good to my eye,” he said. “Some courses you feel good when you step on the tee and other ones you struggle to find where to hit it. Normally if I would have the ball like this on a course I wasn’t comfortable on, I don’t know if I would have broken par.”
-- Two-time U.S. Open champion Lee Janzen fired a bogey-free 65, matching the lowest score of his Web.com Tour career. Janzen is making only his 21st career start and Thursday marked his 60th round on Tour. He posted a 65 twice in 2012 when he made nine cuts in 15 starts and finished No. 62 on the final money list. Prior to last year, Janzen’s only previous starts came in 1990 when he entered two events.
-- Monday qualifier Andy Winings ran off a string of five consecutive birdies starting at No. 9. Winings is a conditional member of the Tour this year but is 0-for-3 in cuts this season. He fired a 4-under 67 after opening his round with back-to-back bogeys. His five birdies in a row is one off the tournament record of six set by Chris Baryla (2009) and Brian Stuard (2011).
-- Australia’s Mathew Goggin fied a 4-under 67 Thursday. Goggin is coming off a T21 finish at the U.S. Open last week at Merion GC near Philadelphia. Goggin’s T21 was his second-best showing in 12 career starts in major championships – he was T5 at the 2009 British Open.
-- Californian John Chin is making the most of his opportunity thus far. Chin is the last man in the field, gaining entry after Patrick Cantlay withdrew on Wednesday. Chin, who was unsuccessful in Monday’s qualifier to get into the tournament, shot a 5-under 66 that was highlighted by a 5-under 30 on the back nine.
“You make a couple of pars here and there and then all of a sudden you think you’re going to get lapped,” said Chin, who opened with an even-par 36 on the front. “This course can easily take away from you what you earn. You just have to grind away and stay patient. Pars are okay out here. Birdies will come as long as you don’t make anything stupid, which I do occasionally.”
Chin has made two cuts in four starts this year but hasn’t cracked the top-25 and entered the week No. 174 on the money list.
-- Leading money winner Michael Putnam fired a 3-under 68 Thursday. Putnam is one of 27 players who have started each of the first 12 events on Tour this year but he is one of only three who have played in all 12 and are currently ranked in the top-25 on the money list – Whee Kim (No. 21) and Danny Lee (No. 23).
-- Andy Pope posted six consecutive 3s on his scorecard on the front nine – one eagle, three birdies and two pars. He wound with a 3-under 68.
-- Two-time tournament champion Kyle Thompson (2007, 2011) struggled to an 8-over 79 Thursday that included two triple-bogeys. Thompson hit 7 of 14 fairways and 9 of 18 greens.
-- The Web.com Tour will head to the Midwest next week for the United Leasing Championship presented by PTI at Victoria National Golf Club in Evansville, Ind. Peter Tomasulo won the inaugural event a year ago, beating David Lingmerth in a playoff. The two players finished regulation play at 11-under 277 after a week of record-setting temperatures which climbed as high as 107 degrees. Last year’s event was the first tournament contested under the newly announced umbrella sponsorship of Web.com, which replaced Nationwide as the umbrella sponsor on Tuesday of tournament week.
|Course statistics for the week:|