Hall and Tuten claim 18-hole co-lead at Orange County National Championship presented by Knight 39
October 08, 2020
By Preston Smith, PGATOUR.COM
- October 08, 2020
- Harry Hall fired a 63 on Thursday to grab a share of the lead. (Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
WINTER GARDEN, Fla. – Rookies Harry Hall and Shad Tuten each carded opening 8-under 63s to tie atop the leaderboard as first-round play was suspended due to darkness at the Orange County National Championship presented by Knight 39. The pair leads nine players by one stroke with nine groups still on the golf course.
Hall, an Englishman and UNLV product, began his round at the 10th hole and parred his first three before birdieing seven of his next 10, including four in a row from Nos. 13-16. He capped the day with a closing birdie at the par-4 ninth for a bogey-free 63.
“I drove the ball really well compared to last week,” said Hall off a T8 finish last week in Savannah. “I hit my irons close and I’ve been putting well for most of the year. When you hit it close you’re naturally going to make more putts.”
Hall has made just eight starts in his rookie season after a poor finish at the 2019 Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying Tournament, also held at Orange County National. He finished T114 for low conditional status and didn’t make a start this year until June.
“I’ve gained a lot of speed since last year; I’m hitting the balls 20 yards further,” reflected Hall, who lowered the loft of his driver to eight degrees this week. “To come back a year later and take an early first-round lead is nice. It’s great to see where my game is at compared to last year.”
On the flip side, Shad Tuten enjoyed one of his career highlights at Q-School last December. He carded four rounds in the 60s en route to a T13 finish to earn guaranteed status on Tour in 2020.
“I took pictures all around this place after Q-School last year,” laughed Tuten. “I just really like Florida golf and love Bermuda grass; I’ve always been comfortable on it. It helps that I played well that week. It helped me to stay focused coming into this week. I know the course so I know when to be aggressive.”
Tuten spaced three birdies over his first 13 holes before closing with a string of five consecutive birdies at Nos. 14-18. He credited his improved play with a patient approach and a strong day off the tee.
“All year I’ve been struggling with my driver, just getting nothing out of it,” said Tuten, who ranks 152nd in driving distance with an average drive of 289.4 yards. “I’ve made a few tweaks and this week I’ve got a new driver in the bag and it’s really clicking. I’m a good putter and my short game is sharp all of the time but getting off the tee is huge for me because I don’t hit it as far as some of these guys. Having that extra 10-15 yards is a big deal for me.”
Nine players sit one stroke off the lead: Tommy Gainey, Stephan Jaeger, George Cunningham, Stephen Franken, Kevin Roy, Justin Lower, Chase Wright, Ben Kohles and Callum Tarren (through 16 holes).
The first round will resume at 7:45 a.m. on Friday morning. Second-round tee times will run from 7:20 a.m. to 2:20 p.m. off of the first and 10th tees on Friday.