By Royce Thompson, Web.com Tour staff
OMAHA, Neb. – Andrew Loupe fired an 8-under 63 in the first round of the Cox Classic presented by Lexus of Omaha in the morning wave on Thursday. Billy Hurley III matched that effort in the afternoon with a bogey-free 63 to take a share of the lead.
One shot back with a 7-under par 64 is Brazil’s Alexandre Rocha.
Marco Dawson, Jason Gore, Nick O’Hern and Wes Roach are all two-strokes off the pace in a tie for fourth.
Starting on the back nine, Loupe got off to a hot start draining a 30-foot eagle putt on his first hole of the day at Champions Run. His only bad hole of the day, a double-bogey on No. 14, actually helped him. It was the errant tee shot on that hole that helped him concentrate on a swing thought he used to card six birdies and an eagle on his last 11 holes.
“I just thought high right shoulder through the ball,” he said. ”It’s just something I’ve worked on for years with my coach.”
Having a share of the lead after the first round is nothing new for Loupe. He fired an opening round 64 at the Panama Claro Championship, the first event of the season, to share the lead with Mark Anderson. The Louisiana native will look to draw on that experience heading in to day two.
Loupe currently sits at 86th on the money list needing to get inside the top 75 to play in the Web.com Tour Finals. The Louisiana State Tiger however is not bothered by his current standing deciding to just focus on what happens inside the ropes instead.
“I know exactly where I am,” he said. “I just need to play golf.”
Hurley does not necessarily have any pressure on him this week or at least that is the way he sees it. He currently sits at 36 on the money list, way inside the number to get into the Finals. He knows it would take something pretty special for him to earn his PGA TOUR card this week.
“I’ve got to have a great week,” he said. “I’m just going to try and make birdies and see what happens.”
It is only day one and the Virginia native knows that there is plenty of golf left to play before this thing is decided.
“We’ve got a long way to go,” he said. “I just need to stay focused and play a good one tomorrow.”
Hurley will get right back at it in the morning after playing in the afternoon on Thursday but doesn’t look at that as an advantage. However, he does like the way he is taking advantage of good approach shots into the greens.
“I didn’t really have any good looks that I missed,” he said. I’m putting it well, so that’s good.”
A win this week would put either of the day one co-leaders inside the top 25 on the regular season money list earning them a PGA TOUR card for the 2013-14 season.
-- There was a 10 minute delay to the start of round one due to insufficient daylight.
-- Wes Roach came into the week ranked 26th on the money list roughly $3,000 behind Patrick Cantlay. This is the last week players can earn a PGA TOUR card for the 2013-14 season by finishing in the top 25 on the regular season money list.
Roach fired a 65 on Thursday and Cantlay carded an even-par 71. Roach currently sits in a tie for fourth whereas Cantlay is currently T107 and in danger of missing the cut. Even with his great start to the week Roach is not worried about the money list.
“I don’t really think too much about the money list,” he said. “I try not to focus on what everyone else is doing.”
If he keeps playing like this Roach may jump quite a few players as well as Cantlay to earn his PGA TOUR card for the first time in his professional career.
-- Andre Loupe’s 28 on the front nine ties the tournament record for low nine with Joey Snyder (1999, Round 1), Jason Gore (2005, Round 2&4) and Jason Day (2007, Round 3)
-- James Sacheck was the last man to get into the field this week when Bhavik Patel withdrew. He carded a bogey free 68 after getting in town late on Wednesday afternoon.
-- Steven Alker registered par on all 18 holes in his first round.
-- Bogey-free in First Round:
63 – Billy Hurley III
64 – Alexandre Rocha
65 – Nick O’Hern, Marco Dawson, Jason Gore
66 – Kelly Kraft, Alex Prugh, Fernando Mechereffe
67 – Russell Knox, Len Mattaice
68 – James Sacheck, Mathew Goggin
69 – Jonathan Hodge, Brett Stegmaier
71 – Steven Alker
-- Hudson Swafford withdrew after the completion of his first round due to a knee injury.