5 Things: Despite penalty, Hall leads at TPC Sawgrass
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. –– Ashley Hall canned a 12-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole to shoot a blistering 7-under 63, shake off a one-shot penalty and take a one-shot lead over Robert Karlsson and Mark Anderson after the opening round of the Web.com Tour Championship Thursday at TPC Sawgrass.
Here are 5 Things to know from the first-round action on the Dye's Valley course:
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1. AUSSIE ON TOP: Hall's 63 was his second-best round of the season, but it could’ve been a stroke lower.
The 29-year-old Australian called a penalty on himself when his ball moved after he addressed it in the 15th fairway. He had just replaced his ball in accordance to lift, clean and place, which was in effect because of soggy conditions.
Fortunately for Hall, he still leads. Unfortunately, the penalty only adds to a string of recent tough breaks.
Hall missed the cut in the Web.com Tour regular-season finale to drop to No. 27 on the money list. The top 25 earned their PGA Tour cards for next season. Hall ended up less than $2,000 away from securing one of those cards.
He has since missed the cut in each of the first three events of the Web.com Tour Finals. After this week, 25 more PGA Tour cards will be awarded to the top postseason earners who do not already have their card locked up.
Entering the week needing a victory to earn his card, Hall fired at the flags with nothing to lose.
What part of his game was working in the opening round? Hall didn’t hesitate. “Everything,” he said.
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2. ANDERSON'S ACE: Having finished in eighth place on the regular-season money list, Mark Anderson could easily coast this week knowing that he already has secured his PGA Tour card for 2013-14.
But that’s not his style.
Anderson’s opening round included his third career hole-in-one, and first in competition. Anderson struck a 4-iron from 204 yards into the wind at the 14th hole. The ball landed 5 feet in front of the hole and rolled into the middle of the cup. His bogey-free round included just 20 putts.
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3. KARLSSON IN COMMAND . . . AGAIN: Robert Karlsson, who is trying to follow in the footsteps of fellow Swede Henrik Stenson and author an equally impressive comeback, fired a bogey-free 64 in the first round.
Karlsson, who has dropped to No. 269 in the Official World Golf Ranking, withdrew on the eve of the 2012 Open Championship with a case of the swing yips.
“I didn’t want to put my feet on the golf course,” Karlsson said. “When you were where I was, first you have to see if you still want to play again.”
He did, starting from the beginning.
“If I hit a 1,000 shanks in a row it didn’t matter," he said. "That’s how I started.”
With time and repetition, he has made great strides. Yet aside from a T-4 finish at the Wells Fargo Championship in May, Karlsson finds himself in the Web.com Tour Finals fighting to retain his PGA Tour playing privileges.
But with status on the European Tour already assured for next season, Karlsson isn't feeling much pressure.
It also doesn’t hurt that his putter is heating up.
“Don’t touch that putter,” he said of his Scotty Cameron by Titleist flatstick. “You might burn yourself.”
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4. HADLEY PLAYING FOR 'SWEET SUE:' Chesson Hadley credited a productive range session on Wednesday for his bogey-free 5-under 65 and a share of fourth place after the opening round.
He said the adjustment was simple: he stood a little closer to the ball and it worked. Nor did it hurt that his short game was sharp. Hadley missed three greens in regulation in a row at Nos. 12-14 and played them in 1 under.
Hadley, who finished third on the Web.com Tour regular season money list, knows that in two weeks he will be in the field at the Frys.com Open.
So what’s at stake this week? Hadley paused to think.
“Well, I guess just trying to pay the bills,” he said. “I wrote a big check last week for a car, so I’d love to get that right on back.”
Hadley purchased a white 2010 Chevrolet Tahoe. “My wife’s pregnant and we’re having our first child in a few weeks,” he said. “I wanted a big car so if she got in an accident she would win.”
Hadley’s wife is due Nov. 2. The baby will be born at Rex Hospital in Raleigh, the same hospital where Hadley, his sister and his mother all were welcomed into the world. Hadley also secured his PGA Tour card when he won the Rex Hospital Open in June.
Hadley said he and his wife don’t know the sex of their child yet, but they have named the new family car.
“Sweet Sue is what we named her,” he said. “All ships and cars are females.”
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5. GOYDOS HAPPY TO BE HEALTHY AGAIN: There are golfers here with many different goals this week. Count Paul Goydos, who shot a 2-over 72 in the opening round, among those just happy to be playing competitively again.
“I’m as healthy as I’m going to be,” he said. “In the last three weeks, I didn’t even have to take Advil.”
Goydos needed two surgeries to remove bone spurs in his left wrist last October and missed nearly the entire season. Goydos is using the Web.com Tour Championship to gear up for the PGA Tour’s season opener at the Frys.Com Open in two weeks.
Goydos, 49, is eligible to make 19 starts on the PGA Tour as part of a major medical exemption.
As for his spotty first round, Goydos blamed his score on a balky putter. Of his stroke, he said, “It’s like a cat trying to get out of a bath tub.”
Goydos may not have as much on the line this week, but he said that doesn’t mean he isn’t playing to win.
“The day that somebody shows up and says that he’s not trying to win, I want to play that guy every week,” Goydos said.