Eight tied for lead in suspended first round at LECOM Suncoast Classic
February 13, 2020
By Chris Cox, PGATOUR.COM
- February 13, 2020
Dylan Wu comments after Round 1 of LECOM Suncoast Classic
LAKEWOOD RANCH, Fla. — Jimmy Stanger carded just one par over his last nine holes Thursday morning at the LECOM Suncoast Classic. He tallied three consecutive bogeys at one point during that stretch, which he capped with a double at the par-4 fourth.
He will enter Friday tied for the lead.
It was that kind of day at Lakewood National Golf Club, where seven players shot 6-under 66 to pace the leaderboard. Taylor Montgomery was also 6-under through 16 holes until play was suspended due to darkness at 6:25 p.m.
The day was headlined by Stanger, who was 5-under and bogey-free through his first 10 holes but went bogey-bogey-double bogey on Nos. 2 through 4. And yet, he managed to hole out for eagle from a divot at the par-4 fifth, then birdied three of his final four holes to surge back into contention.
“I was questioning what was going on with my game,” Stanger said afterward. “And then I holed out for eagle on five from 120 yards and all of the sudden golf was easy again. Following up that tough stretch with eagle-birdie-birdie was great. I love golf and I hate golf at the same time.”
“This is probably the craziest round I’ve ever played,” he added. “One par on my back nine, that doesn’t happen much. I played with Tyson Alexander today who shot 4-under and didn’t make a bogey. Meanwhile I’m over here making eight birdies and an eagle and shooting 6-under. Who knows with golf.”
Matching Stanger at 6-under 66 were Dylan Wu, Greyson Sigg, T.J. Vogel, Dan McCarthy, Jamie Arnold and local product Jack Maguire. Maguire, Arnold and Sigg—a Korn Ferry Tour rookie—were all bogey-free for the day. Montgomery, meanwhile, has a 12-foot putt for birdie on No. 17 to potentially claim the solo lead Friday morning. Play will resume at 7:45 a.m. on Friday.
“You’ve got to get a lot of breaks, and that’s what it takes to have a good week,” said Sigg, whose round was highlighted by a 35-foot birdie putt from the fringe at No. 5. “Today I was able to get a couple to fall in my favor.”
Vogel was 7-under until a bogey at the 17th, but he still left encouraged about his day. He finished with six birdies and an eagle at the par-5 6th.
“I drove the ball really well, didn’t really put myself in any tough positions today,” he said. “The only bogeys I had were three-putts. There’s not too much to complain about ball-striking wise. It’s obviously nice the way that I hit it.”
Wu, meanwhile, has become accustomed to first-round contention. He was tied for second after 18 holes at the season-opening Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay and last week held a share of the lead at the Country Club de Bogota Championship. The 23-year-old, who has a pair of top-10 finishes so far, continued that torrid stretch Thursday with just one bogey, at the par-3 third, and an eagle at the ninth where he hit a 258-yard approach shot to inside seven feet.
“I sound like a broken record, but all I’ve been doing is try to play every round and every tournament like it’s a clean slate and like nothing happened the week before,” he said. “The points are at zero and I just try to play my best golf and move onto the next shot. If you hit a bad one, just move on, try to stay mentally tough out there.”
McCarthy maintained his own mental toughness, as a pair of birdies to start his day were quickly erased by a double bogey on his third hole. But the 34-year-old rallied with three more birdies on the back nine before posting a bogey-free 33 on the front.
“I got off to a good start with birdies on the first two, then just made a bad swing and hooked it into the water,” he said. “But if you’re hitting it good out here, there’s enough par-5s that you’ll have a birdie opportunity. I just tried not to let it upset me and continued onward…Only one bad swing all day long, and other than that, I was pretty consistent.”
Consistent is probably not how Stanger would have described his day. But that’s moot now. He’s tied atop the leaderboard at a course he is comfortable and familiar with.
“The way this course sets up, I am very comfortable out there,” said Stanger, who finished tied for third here a year ago. “It sets up great for my game. It has a lot of wide-open fairways and the greens are rolling so well. … It’s always nice to get through a rough stretch early in the tournament. You kind of feel invincible if you are able to weather it.”