We could use a few more Golf Channels this weekend. Five professional golf tournaments got underway on Thursday, one NCAA Championship ended on Wednesday, and another NCAA Championship starts today. It’s Memorial Day weekend and summer’s in the air—let’s ride.
The Charles Schwab Challenge got off to a sporadic start on Thursday, with scores ranging from 64 to 80. Tony Finau is the first-round leader after a seven-birdie performance, while Jordan Spieth and Roger Sloan sit just one shot back. Conditions in the morning were considerably easier; 10 of the top 12 players on the leaderboard teed off in the first wave. Charles Schwab Challenge Leaderboard
The search continues
Tony Finau was not perfect on Thursday, but seven birdies will always help your cause. After playing the first six holes in one-under, Finau made five birdies over his next seven holes and held the lead throughout the day. He didn’t hit the ball especially well off the tee, but he did lead the field in Strokes Gained: Approach and was sixth in SG: Putting.
It’s no secret that Tony Finau is a world-class player. Currently ranked 16th in the Official World Golf Ranking, Finau has played incredible golf over the past couple seasons. He had four runner-up finishes last year, was a Ryder Cup captain’s pick, and worked himself into the top 10 in the OWGR for the first time in his career. Still, his only win came in 2016 at an opposite-field event. Another victory is inevitable for Finau, and this may be the week.
Other Leaderboard Notes
Dru Love and Tucker Wadkins both received “champions’ choice” invites to the Charles Schwab Challenge. Their dads, Davis and Lanny, happen to be past champions of this event. Tucker shot 76 on Thursday and sits T-112. Dru shot 78 and is DFL. No further comment.
Building off his strong putting performance at Bethpage Black, Jordan Spieth led the field in that category on Thursday. The native Texan had the best single-round putting performance of his career, gaining 5.5 strokes with the flatstick. He sits one shot off the lead as he tries to bounce back from the first real slump of his young career.
Great putting was a prerequisite if you wanted to be in contention at Colonial after the first round. At the end of the day, eight of the top 10 in SG: Putting finished within two shots of the lead. Spieth and Finau took the top two spots, followed by Roger Sloan, Chesson Hadley, Peter Uihlein, Scott Brown, Jason Dufner, and Trey Mullinax.
Jimmy Walker was the lone man in the top 10 who did not have an exceptional day on the greens. Instead, Walker was in the top 10 in SG: Off-the-Tee and SG: Approach. Once a top-30 player, Walker finds himself currently ranked outside the top 100 in the OWGR. If he makes putts on the weekend, he will likely be in contention on Sunday.
Looking at the others within striking distance, Ryan Palmer’s name sticks out as someone who could make a run. Like Walker, Palmer was in the top 10 in both SG: Off-the-Tee and SG: Approach on Thursday. Don’t be surprised if he rises up the leaderboard in the coming days.
Coming off his impressive first-round 64 at the PGA Championship, Danny Lee got off to a solid start with a 69 on Thursday. Lee has just recently returned to the top ranks of professional golf, and all signs point to more consistent play in the future.
The Web.com Tour invades Fried Egg Territory
The Evans Scholars Invitational is through one round at the Glen Club outside of Chicago, and Tyler McCumber finds himself atop the leaderboard. McCumber opened 2-2 on his way to an opening 65. He made a big splash on the Mackenzie Tour last season after winning three times, and he already has four top-10 finishes on the Web.com Tour in 2019. Rob Oppenheim, Vince India, and Marcelo Rozo are the closest chasers, sitting just two shots back of McCumber. Evans Scholars Invitational Leaderboard
Campus Roundup with Will Knights
It’s the final weekend of the college golf season as the men get set to tee it up for the NCAA Championship. Oklahoma State, led by Viktor Hovland and Matthew Wolff, return to defend their title while the rest of the field looks to knock off the champs. Tee Times
The Duke Lady Blue Devils took care of business on Wednesday, defeating Wake Forest in the finals of the Women’s NCAA Championship. Jaravee Boonchant and Miranda Wang got the first two points in extra holes for Duke, and Ana Belac tallied the clinching point in her anchor match. The win is the Blue Devils’ seventh NCAA Championship title. All seven have come since 1999.
There’s a crowd at the top of the Made in Denmark leaderboard on the European Tour. Through one round, five players are tied for the lead at -5, and 25 are within two shots of that mark. Leaderboard
A group of three women, Anna Nordqvist, Bronte Law, and Jennifer Song lead after one round of the Pure Silk Championship on the LPGA Tour. Brooke Henderson and Minjee Lee are also in the top 10. Leaderboard
Scott Parel leads after one round of the Senior PGA Championship at Oak Hill. Parel opened with a solid 66, leading three pursuers by one shot heading into the weekend. Leaderboard
Tiger committed to play at The Memorial at Muirfield Village on Thursday. It will be his only start between the PGA Championship and the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.
Shotgun Start: Little boy blue and the man on the moon
It’s Friday going into a holiday weekend so this episode meanders through some far flung corners of the golf world. We begin with a story time segment that piggyback’s off our discussion on Brooks Koepka’s equipment proclivities from Wednesday. Our next story comes from a tipster on the amateur days of Dru Love, who had himself a rough first round out at Colonial. We get into some of the different exemptions this week, how they’re performing, and how Colonial builds its field in a quirky way. We ask if there are any pro golfers out there that would start turning down exemptions if they were in Dru’s shoes and struggle to come up with an answer. In Fan Vote Friday Jr, we get into the story of Ben Silverman and how it’s a stark contrast from his two playing partners, Love and Tucker Wadkins. Our third and final story from this Friday storytime episode relays a fun anecdote about the elder Wadkins putting in an angry call to Arizona during Tucker’s playing days. In news, we hit on Tiger’s commitment to Memorial and a potentially mattress-related WD in Fort Worth. Flashback Friday focuses on 2003 Colonial champ Kenny Perry, who has an odd agreement to donate a percentage of his career earnings to a small college that helped fund him when he was broke and trying to make it as a pro. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher or Spotify