McCoy and Wilcox lead after first round at The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay
January 13, 2019
By Preston Smith, PGATOUR.COM
- January 13, 2019
- Lee McCoy and Willy Wilcox carded rounds of 6-under 66 to take the early lead before play was suspended due to darkness. (Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
GREAT EXUMA, Bahamas – The first round of the 2019 Web.com Tour season kicked off at The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay on Sunday. Lee McCoy and Willy Wilcox used rounds of 6-under 66 to take the early lead. Play was suspended due to darkness before eight groups finished the round. John Oda, who has three holes left to play tomorrow, leads in relation to par at 8-under.
Despite an early bogey, Lee McCoy carded seven birdies on the day. The former University of Georgia standout used birdies on holes 15, 16 and 17 en route to a back-nine 32. He credited making several up and downs early in his round as the key.
“It was a grind today,” said McCoy. “I made a lot of really good pars early and got some momentum going. There are so many nerve-wracking shots out here and sooner or later you’re going to have to make some really good up and downs.”
McCoy highlighted a few changes in his bag that have helped his game. The recent addition of a new driving iron and putter change have McCoy’s game trending in the right direction.
“I put in an 18-degree Callaway Apex driving iron and it’s so good for these tees out here,” said McCoy. “There’s a lot of tee shots on this course where driver is just a little bit too much so that club has been huge for me. I also put in a new Odyssey Tuttle putter and I’ve been absolutely rolling it great and I hope that trend continues.”
McCoy earned guaranteed starts this season after finishing T34 at the Web.com Tour Qualifying Tournament last December, where he was the medalist in 2017.
“I’ve been looking forward to coming out here ever since my last Web.com Tour event of last season in Oregon,” said McCoy. “It’s such a blessing to be down here and to play a great golf course.”
Willy Wilcox is currently tied atop the leaderboard after a bogey-free 66. Wilcox had six birdies on the day including five on the front nine. After two opening pars, the putter heated up for Wilcox who was able to roll in two putts over 30 feet.
“I made some putts, that was the main thing today,” said Wilcox. “I feel pretty comfortable on the front nine and was able to make some long ones.”
Wilcox, who turned professional in 2009, had four top-10s on the Web.com Tour last season and finished 37th on the Regular Season Money List. He’s looking to regain his PGA TOUR card in the 2019 season.
“These Bahamas events are a really cool way to start the year,” said Wilcox. “Coming back down here is just heaven.”
First-round tee times will continue beginning at 7:15 a.m. ET on Monday, while second-round tee times will continue as scheduled beginning at 6:45 a.m. ET.
- Sunday’s weather: Sunny, High of 78, Winds E 10-15 mph, with gusts up to 20 mph.
- This week’s purse is $600,000, with $108,000 going to the champion.
- After battling wind and rain over the last two years, the first round had optimal conditions. In 2016, the tournament’s inaugural year, weather conditions led to the highest cut in Web.com Tour history at 11-over.
- Several players scored well in the opening round of their Web.com Tour career. Doug Ghim – the low amateur at the 2018 Masters – enjoyed the most impressive debut with a 3-under 69. Austin Smotherman sits at 5-under through 15 holes in his debut and will finish his round tomorrow. Seventeen players in all are making their Web.com Tour debut this week in Great Exuma.
- Last year’s champion, Sungjae Im, is the most recent player to win in his Web.com Tour debut. Im went on to win Web.com Tour Rookie of the Year in 2018 and became the first player to lead the money list wire-to-wire in the Tour’s history.
- The par-3 second (228 yards) played as the toughest hole on the course during the first round by scoring average (3.348). The hole conceded 42 bogeys or worse. The par-4 12th played as the second-toughest hole after being the toughest the last two years. In 2017, its average of 5.008 marked the toughest hole over the course of a tournament in the Web.com Tour’s history. The course overall ranked as the third toughest on the Web.com Tour in 2018.
- The par-5 first hole (532 yards) ranked as the easiest hole on Sunday. The hole played to an average of 4.545 and relinquished 7 eagles and 63 birdies. Vince Covello, a lifelong Philadelphia Eagles fan, eagled the opening hole and gave the “Fly Eagles Fly” signal walking off the green. He also slipped on an Eagles jersey midway through his final hole and sunk a par putt. The Eagles play the Saints on Sunday evening for a spot in the NFC Championship.
- Ten eagles in total were made on Sunday, but only one at the par-5 18th (637 yards). Scottie Scheffler, playing in his second career Web.com Tour event, got onto the green in two and made the putt for eagle. Scheffler, the low amateur at the 2017 U.S. Open, finished at 1-under 71.