Aug 05, 2010 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
For vastly different reasons, the principal figures in Thursday’s opening round of the Turning Stone Resort Championship left Atunyote Golf Club hungry.
Rory Sabbatini wanted a few more putts to drop. Omar Uresti wanted to bottle the unexpected magic that put him in a tie for the lead. Two dozen players just wanted to finish – and the 15-year-old Gavin Hall wanted a do-over.
It was Sabbatini, a multiple winner on the PGA Tour, and the career journeyman Uresti in front after matching totals of seven-under-par 65. Several players, including long-time stars Steve Elkington and Brad Faxon, lay one shot back.
Meanwhile, Hall fell to a 78, six over par, as the day’s largest gallery followed him from the 1st tee onward.
It didn’t help Hall’s nerves that he had to wait longer than expected to get underway. At 8:37 a.m., not even 90 minutes after play began, the horn sounded for a weather delay (heavy rains) that lasted nearly three hours.
When Hall finally teed it up close to noon, he split the 1st fairway – then airmailed his second shot over the green. Two chips and two putts later, Hall had carded a double bogey.
Hall settled down for a while – but a three-put bogey on 9 really hurt, as did a triple bogey on 13. By day’s end, only Dick Mast, a Monday qualifier, had a worse score.
At the top, Sabbatini was hitting all 18 greens in regulation, yet taking 30 putts. He said it was rare to think that, after a 65, it could have been a lot lower, but that was his sentiment at round’s end.
Uresti, who hasn’t won a PGA Tour event in nearly two decades as a pro, matched Sabbatini’s bogey-free effort with his 65, earning five birdies in a back-nine 31 to move to the top.
Brian Davis, who lost a playoff to Jim Furyk at the Verizon Heritage earlier this year, posted the first 66 of the day, a number that Faxon (who birdied his last three holes) and Elkington would match, as would Alex Cejka. Six players – John Mallinger, Chris Couch, Tim Wilkinson, Michael Bradley, Jonathan Byrd and Jason Dufner – finished at 67, five under par.
The combination of greens softened by all the rain and modest winds led to 77 of the 132 players sitting under par at day’s end, so it’s clear that an under-par total will be needed to survive Friday’s 36-hole cut.
Both Chris Tidland, at six under, and Steve Wheatcroft, at five under, were still on the course when play was stopped due to darkness just after 8 p.m. In all, 24 players will come back at 7:40 a.m. Friday morning to finish the first round.
Yet the second round will start on time, at 7:10 a.m., with Cejka, Faxon and Elkington heading out early. Uresti tees off at 12:11, a half-hour before Sabbatini.