Jake Owen savors Web.com Tour debut at Nashville Golf Open
May 24, 2018
By Kevin Prise , PGATOUR.COM
- Country music star Jake Owen had an up-and-down opening round at Nashville Golf & Athletic Club. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Country music star Jake Owen has performed on several types of stages throughout his illustrious musical career.
But as he fine-tuned his putting stroke on the practice green at Nashville Golf & Athletic Club on Thursday morning, he was readying for a new type of show entirely.
Owen, 36, made his Web.com Tour debut on Thursday at the Nashville Golf Open Benefitting the Snedeker Foundation, and he struck the perfect chord on his opening tee shot, striping a long iron to inside 15 feet on the 211-yard, par-3 10th hole.
There were bumps in the road in the morning and early afternoon. Owen hit three tee shots out-of-bounds on his opening nine and ultimately signing for a 14-over 86 in his first career Web.com Tour round.
Despite the lowlights, Owen thrilled the sizable galleries in the Nashville suburbs with plenty of smiles, crowd interactions and even a chip-in for par at the par-5 seventh, his 16th hole of the day.
Owen kibitzed with well-wishers after the round and met with the media. Although he admitted he expected a better score out of himself, he took his struggles in stride, determined to produce a better outcome Friday.
“At the end of the day, it’s so cool to be out here with these guys,” Owen said outside the scoring tent Thursday afternoon, after taking pictures with playing partner Dawson Armstrong, who shot 2-under 70 in his PGA TOUR-sanctioned debut.
“I hit some really good shots, and I hit some bad shots, which I expected. Number one, it’s so humbling just to be here with these guys. Every one of these guys out here is grinding week-to-week, to not only make a paycheck but to further their life and career. The last thing I want to do is come out here and hold anybody up.
“So to be around these guys is a pleasure for me. It’s an honor.”
Regardless of how things transpire on Friday, Owen will return to his own style of tour life next week with an indelible memory from the par-5 seventh hole.
After finding the center of the fairway with his drive, the Florida native was approximately 250 yards from the hole, necessitating a decision on whether to go for the green.
Owen’s father Steve – recently cancer-free – was in the gallery. Owen always looks to his dad for advice, so it made sense he’d go straight to the source to assist in the decision-making.
“He knew what I was thinking, because I wanted to go for it,” Owen said with a laugh. “He looked at me and went, basically, ‘Don’t do it,’ which basically, for me, meant, ‘Do it.’
Owen missed well right of the green, failed to reach the green with his third, and chipped his fourth past the flagstick, back over the green.
Facing an approximately 30-foot chip for par, he knew what he had to do.
“The only thing I’m thinking at the time, was, ‘If I don’t make par here, my dad is going to hold this over me for the rest of the night,’” Owen said. “So I stepped over the chip shot and said, ‘Just make this.’ And I made it.
“That’s what keeps you going in golf.”
Owen followed up his highlight-reel chip-in with a tee shot to inside eight feet on the uphill par-3 eighth, but his birdie putt tailed just to the left.
A bogey on No. 9 didn’t damper his mood, though. He knows that one more day of Web.com Tour competition, playing on an unrestricted sponsor invitation designed to draw attention to the tournament, is in store.
One more day to see firsthand how the pros navigate a tournament-caliber test. One more day to thrill his fans in an athletic setting, before he takes the mic in the way he’s used to.
Owen may not have recorded a birdie on Thursday, but he hit plenty of the right notes.
“At the end of the day, I don’t think anyone expected me to come out here and shoot some low number,” Owen said. “I mean, I probably expected it more of myself. But I get to come out here again. I get to play two days in a row with PGA TOUR players, and that’s a pretty good way to spend a Thursday and Friday.
“My mom and dad are here, and my girlfriend’s watching me. She gave me a kiss on No. 7 after I chipped it in, then I hit it close on No. 8, uphill, with a 4-iron, which is a pretty good shot.
“So I might get some more kisses tomorrow.”