Binfield leads in the Bahamas as play is suspended
January 20, 2019
By Preston Smith, PGATOUR.COM
- January 20, 2019
- Binfield grabbed the clubhouse lead with a 68 on Sunday. (Kevin Prise/PGATOUR.COM)
GREAT ABACO, Bahamas – Taking advantage of a sponsor’s exemption to The Bahamas Great Abaco Classic at The Abaco Club, Wade Binfield opened with a 4-under 68 to hold the clubhouse lead as play was suspended due to darkness on Sunday evening. Play was delayed by an hour and 33 minutes due to weather in the middle of the first round. Strong wind was consistent throughout the day, with varied gusts up to 35 miles per hour. No groups finished in the afternoon wave, but Cody Blick led scoring of unfinished players at 4-under through nine holes.
“That’s one of the best rounds I’ve played,” said Binfield. “Certainly the best in a long time. The wind was just constant, and a lot of big gusts out there too. I just tried to stick to my game plan and how to get it in there with the wind. I chipped it and putted it beautifully today, and the chip-in on 15 definitely helped.”
Binfield, who worked as a substitute teacher from 2010-14, went out at even-par 36 with a bogey at the third and a birdie at the eighth, but back-to-back birdies at Nos. 10 and 11 jumpstarted his round. The chip-in birdie at the 15th and a closing birdie at the par-5 18th cemented his place atop the leaderboard.
“I really felt like I played halfway solid last week but hit a couple shots that turned holes into bogey or double-bogey holes,” said Binfield, who finished T68 last week. “I thought if I could find some fairways and some greens today and avoid the big number, I could be okay. Making some early par putts settled me down and then I really got going in the round.”
The wind continued to be a big factor throughout the day. Players referenced a lot more feel shots on distances compared to their normal numbers.
“You just have to trust that the wind is going to bring it back,” said Binfield. “There’s a couple of times where you’re aiming out close to the ocean and just have to know that the wind is going to stop the golf ball. I would chip a 4-iron from 170, and then turn around and hit a pitching wedge from 180, so you kind of have to throw distances out the window.”
Despite no groups finishing in the afternoon, several players were off to good starts before play was suspended. Brad Hopfinger (through 14 holes), Michael Arnaud (through 13) and Vince Covello (through 12) all sit at 3-under, one off the lead.
Harry Higgs, Max Rottluff, Byron Meth and Norman Xiong all finished at 2-under 70. Higgs went out in the first tee time of the day, but that provided no relief from the wind.
“We’re all used to wind in a sense, but we’re not used to seeing balls move this much in the air,” said Higgs, who finished by birdieing four out of his last five holes. “No. 18 feels like the longest hole in the world right now. I think I hit my 3-iron and it looked like I threw it off the tee. It had nothing on it. I hit a 7-iron from like 105 yards, so there’s a lot of guessing.”
The first round will continue starting at 7:30 a.m. ET on Monday morning.