Five players share first-day lead at Stonebrae Classic
August 01, 2014
By Joe Chemycz, PGATOUR.COM
- Kelly Kraft is one of the five players who opened with 63s in Round 1. (Michael Cohen/Getty Images)
HAYWARD, Calif. – Five players – Chris Baker, Ryan Blaum, Blayne Barber, Kelly Kraft and Nicholas Lindheim – share the clubhouse lead in the first round of the weather-delayed Stonebrae Classic. The quintet all posted 7-under 63s at TPC Stonebrae.
Early morning fog rolled into the East Bay and suspended play minutes after the initial groups teed off. Play resumed 1:45 later but the delay was enough to keep 21 players from finishing their afternoon rounds.
Jammed together at 6-under 64 are Tyler Weworski, Hugo Leon, Cameron Wilson, Scott Pinckney, Timothy O’Neal and Josh Broadaway, who finished his round about 25 minutes after sunset.
Nine more players are knotted at 5-under as the normally difficult hilltop layout yielded plenty of red numbers. There are currently 98 players below par and a total of 120 at par-70 or better.
Baker was the first to post a 63, an important score for the Jacksonville Beach, Fla., resident as he tries to climb up from No. 122 on the money list.
“There’s a little pressure but at the same time my game’s been good all year,” he said. “I just haven’t put four days together. I’ve made several cuts but I’ve been struggling on the greens and anytime you do that it just leaks into the rest of your game. It makes the whole game harder.”
Weworski finally put a decent round together and is in the hunt for the first time. The 24-year-old rookie from Southern California has made only two cuts in 12 starts, including eight misses in a row prior to this week.
“It’s about time,” he said with a smile. “I’m starting to hit the center of the face of the club. I was hitting it off the toe for a good 2 ½ months and it’s hard to do on this Tour and still play well. Out here it’s all about consistency and it’s hard to commit when you’re not doing that.”
Part of Weworski’s woes have come from the tee this year. He ranks No. 56 in driving distance and is 138th in driving accuracy (55.17%).
“My favorite club in the bag is my driver and it’s been my absolute worst club this year,” he said. “I knew coming into this week I was starting to hit it good. I got to this week and saw this course was a bit of a bomber’s paradise, so I figured it would be good.”
Four players claim early lead at Stonebrae
FIRST ROUND NOTES:
• Thursday weather: Fog in the morning. Play was suspended from 7:05 to 8:45 a.m. Becoming partly cloudy in the afternoon. WindWNW 7-15 mph. Overnight low of 60. Daytime high of 84.
• Play was suspended due to darkness at 8:20 p.m. A total of 21 players did not complete their rounds. Those players will return Friday morning and resume play at 7:30 a.m. The second round will begin as scheduled at 7:00 a.m.
• The Stonebrae Classic was played from 2009-12 but was not on the 2013 schedule due to construction of a new clubhouse. Previous tournament winners were Michael Sim (2009), Kevin Chappell (2010), Daniel Chopra (2011) and Alex Aragon (2012).
• Scott Parel recorded the seventh hole-in-one in tournament history. Parel used an 8-iron at the 168-yard, 16th hole for his ace. It’s just the second ace at that hole – Andy Bare, R2, 2012.
• Zack Sucher, winner of last week’s Midwest Classic, got off to another solid start with a 5-under 65 that put him T10. Sucher opened with a 60 two weeks ago at the Albertsons Boise Open and finished T4. He started last week in Kansas City with a 5-under 66 and then added a 63 in round two and a 64 in round three to open up a three-shot lead, which was his margin of victory.
• Colt Knost put together a bogey-free, 5-under 65 and is T12. Knost has made 12 cuts in 16 starts this year but has only a pair of top-25 finishes and stands No. 77 on the money list.
“This is probably the most consistent I’ve been as far as cuts go,” he said. “I just haven’t had everything all come together. One week I hit it great and putt horrible. The next week I hit it terrible and make everything for par.”
Knost admits part of his problem this year has been overscheduling.
“I did a very bad job of scheduling things. This is my seventh in a row and I shouldn’t do that,” he said. “I promised myself two years ago that I wouldn’t play more than four in a row and I haven’t lived up to that two years in a row. I can’t make myself do it. The way this Tour works with the money list and such, you feel like if you take weeks off you’ll get lapped.”
Knost posted scores of 78-75 and last week’s Midwest Classic but admitted it might have been a good thing.
“It was a disaster but I didn’t get there until Wednesday night and was home (in Dallas) Friday afternoon. It almost felt like a week off,” he said. “Playing tired doesn’t do any good. You take the week off and you might drop a couple of spots but you come back fresh and give yourself a better chance to play good.”
• Reigning NCAA Champion Cameron Wilson of Stanford is in the field this week courtesy of a sponsor exemption. The Connecticut native is playing in just his second Web.com Tour event after gaining entry into last week’s Midwest Classic as a Monday qualifier.
Wilson chalked eight birdies during his 6-under 64.
“Nobody expects to make eight birdies in a round,” said the lefty. “I played well, nothing interesting but I gave myself a lot of chances.”
Wilson managed to hit only 11 greens in regulation but salvaged his round by totaling just 24 putts.
The recent Cardinal graduate has missed the cut in all three of his PGA TOUR starts and admitted that when he plays has occasionally affected how he plays.
“To be honest, I’ve struggled with having late tee times the first day,” he said. “When you’re a Monday qualifier or a sponsor exemption you’re playing late and you can’t play on Wednesday because of the Pro-Am. Everyone’s been there. You just have to play well a couple times to move out of that slot.”
• Cameron Wilson became only the third Stanford player to win the NCAA Men’s Individual Championship when he captured the title earlier this year. The other two Cardinal players to win were Tiger Woods (1995) and former USGA President Sandy Tatum (1942).
• Making his first start on the Web.com Tour in more than seven years is 48-year-old Mike Springer. Springer is playing out of the 48-49 year old category this week.
“I sat on the bench for a little bit and did nothing,” he said. “I watched the kids grow up and do a lot of the stuff I missed out on for quite some time.”
He owns the distinction of being the first tournament winner in Tour history. The former Arizona Wildcat won the Tour’s inaugural start at the1990 Bakersfield Open. He would go on to win two more times late in the year – Reno Open, El Paso Open – and moved on to the PGA TOUR.
Springer had an extended career on TOUR and his best year came in 1994 when he won two times and finished No. 13 on the money list. Springer’s last start on TOUR came at the 2006 Valero Texas Open. His last start of any kind came at the 2007 Rex Hospital Open.
“It’s been a long time. When I left I was burned out and had a bad hip that bothered me every day,” he said. “I had to get that repaired. I was tired and knew that I had to take a break and get away from the game if I wanted to play when I’m 50.”
Springer has been back in Fresno, Calif., where he owns and manages an insurance agency.
Springer was a late starter in the afternoon and stumbled with a triple bogey-8 on his third hole. He eventually finished with a 6-over 76.
“It’s great to be back and see all the faces of the guys that I haven’t seen in a long time. It was good to get the juices flowing again,” he said. “It was okay. I’m disappointed because I thought I could keep it around par but I didn’t make any birdies today and I didn’t have that many good chances. Tomorrow’s another day to get after it.”
• Nick Rousey made a double-eagle during Tuesday’s practice round. Rousey hit driver/3-wood on the par-5, 3rd hole which measures 625 yards. Rousey holed his second shot from about 309 yards. It was his third double-eagle of his career, and the second this year, though neither have come during tournament rounds.
• Bogey-free rounds this week:
R1 65 – Colt Knost, Adam Hadwin, Zac Blair
66 – Tyler Duncan
67 – Justin Thomas, Michael Kim
• NEXT WEEK: The Web.com Tour heads back to the Midwest for the 25th Price Cutter Charity Championship at Highland Springs Country Club (Aug. 4-10), th3 19th of 21 regular season events on the schedule. Last year Andrew Svoboda fired a final round, 8-under 64 to come from two shots off the pace and earn his first career title. Svoboda was flawless on Sunday, hitting all 18 greens in regulation. The former St. John’s University standout finished at 22-under 266 and won by three shots over Brazil’s Fernando Mechereffe. This year’s purse will total $675,000 with $121,500 to the winner.