Three tied for early N’wide lead in Charleston
CHARLESTON, S.C. – Joe Affrunti, James Hahn and Brendan Steele shot 6-under 66s on Thursday to share the first-round lead in the Nationwide Tour Championship, the last chance for all three to earn 2011 PGA Tour cards through the developmental circuit money list.
The top 60 earners qualified for the season-ending tournament at Daniel Island Club. The final top 25 will earn spots on the PGA Tour.
Hunter Haas and South Carolina resident William McGirt opened with 67s on the Ralston Creek layout. Colt Knost and Scott Gardiner shot 68s, and money leader Jamie Lovemark topped a group at 69.
Affrunti, No. 34 on the money list, one-putted 13 greens and had only 21 putts overall.
“I don’t think there is any pressure,” Affrunti said. “There’s 60 guys and it feels like you’ve got the course to yourself. It’s guaranteed four rounds, so there’s no pressure. Whether you struggle or you play well today, you don’t feel like you’ve got to keep it going or turn it around.”
Steele is No. 30 on the money list.
“I really didn’t feel that great yesterday or starting out today,” Steele said. “Sometimes that’s where the best rounds come from because you have to pay attention to each shot and you know that if you don’t give it all your attention you’re going to get in trouble.”
Hahn, No. 29 on the money list, played alongside Steele.
“I am really focusing on the things that I have now and the things that I’m grateful for and not worry about the things that I want,” Hahn said. “It doesn’t matter what happens at the end of the week. This is golf. If I’m destined to be there next year then, I will. Being realistic, it might even be a blessing in disguise to be out here for another year, maybe two more years to really get my game straight for the PGA Tour.”
Nate Smith, 24th on the money list, opened with a 73, No. 25 Chris Nallen shot a 70, No. 26 Brandt Jobe had a 74, No. 27 David Hearn a 69 and No. 28 Jon Mills a 73.
DIVOTS: The winner will receive $180,000 from the $1 million purse. ... Chris Kirk, No. 2 on the money list, withdrew because of a broken bone at the base of his left thumb.