Round 1 notebook: O'Hair back on track at Nationwide Children's Hospitaltext sizeSean O'Hair, who opened with a 5-under 66, is looking to get through to the PGA TOUR.September 12, 2013
By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Sean O’Hair figured he was in for a long delay when the horn sounded to halt play at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship.
So he decided to cool his heels back at the hotel while storms passed.
He wasn’t there long enough to kick off his shoes.
“Right when I pulled in, (my caddie) told me to get back,” said the 31-year-old pro, who heated up after the delay to card a 5-under 66 at Ohio State’s Scarlet Course. He wound up two shots behind leader Jim Herman when play was suspended for the night.
It was the second time O’Hair has uncorked a low round during the Web.com Tour Finals. He shot 64-69 on the weekend at the Hotel Fitness Championship, where he finished 11th.
O’Hair came into the week tied for 26th on the Finals money list – just inside the cut line to regain his PGA TOUR card.
“I feel like for a while now I’ve gotten a little bit better as each week’s gone on,” he said. “I think if I can just build on that each week and feel a little more comfortable out there … I’ll be happy with the result.”
O’Hair has notched four wins in nine PGA TOUR seasons, the most recent coming at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open. He came to the Finals having made just one cut since May.
BEATING THE DARK: Not only did Danny Lee find himself two shots off the pace after Thursday’s 66, it came with a bonus.
He was one of just five golfers from the afternoon groups to finish.
“I’m really happy for that,” said the former U.S. Amateur champion, who capped his round with an 8-foot birdie at No. 9.
“We were running off the (eighth) hole so we could finish and sleep in a little bit more. The tee was right next to it; thank God for that.”
No sooner had Lee and playing partners Scott Dunlap and Nick O’Hern hit their tee shots, the horn sounded to suspend play for the evening.
Perhaps the toughest thing about Lee’s finish was getting his scorecard registered. O’Hern opted not to putt out and went to the locker room before coming back to sign Lee’s card.
The threesome of Hudson Swafford, Bhavik Patel and Wes Roach also managed to complete their rounds before play was halted.
GAME OF INCHES: Chesson Hadley, who finished No. 4 in regular-season earnings but has struggled in the Finals, showed signs of a turnaround with an opening 68 that left him four off the lead.
It was the first time the Georgia Tech grad has broken 70 in the Finals. With the four-event series also determining eligibility priority for next year’s event, Hadley had fallen to 38th in the pecking order.
“Just three more rounds like today,” the Rex Hospital Open winner said, “and we should be right there.”
The reversal actually began at last week’s Chiquita Classic, where Hadley shot no worse than 73 after a day in Atlanta with swing coach Jeff Patton.
Patton immediately noticed that Hadley, who had been struggling with his irons, had his hands too high at setup. Within five swings, the problem was resolved.
“I just went in with that one swing thought, and my iron play has been more crisp,” he said. “Unbelievable, isn’t it? But that’s how close (in talent) everybody is at this stage.”
REGAINING HIS FOCUS: Argentina’s Miguel Angel Carballo is another seeking to make up ground lost in the first two Finals stops. Thursday’s 67 also marked his first round in the 60s since the series began.
A strong closing kick earned Carballo one of the 25 PGA TOUR cards handed out in the regular season, sharing runner-up honors in Knoxville and notching two other top-15s in Springfield and Omaha.
However, he suggested the closing flurry left him somewhat mentally drained as the Tour moved into the Finals.
“Those last tournaments closing out the year were pretty big,” Carballo said. “I think I just wasn’t quite as focused after getting my card. Now I’m tightening things back up and we’re going after the same (objectives).”
Carballo will be making his second trip to the PGA TOUR, having finished 169th in earnings a year ago.