It’s one of the calmer weeks on the golf schedule, but there is plenty of action this week. Shane Lowry has jumped out to the first-round lead at Harbour Town, Nelly Korda continues to play dominant golf, and a pair of former SEC players hold the lead at Web.com Tour event in Alabama.
Shane Lowry got off to a sparkling start at the RBC Heritage with a bogey-free 65 on Thursday. His round comes as a bit of a surprise since he has not been in his best form in recent events. Lowry started the year off with a bang by winning in Abu Dhabi, but he has missed the cut in four of his last seven events. His only appearance at the Heritage resulted in a T-44 in 2017, yet he apparently has some good mojo going this week. RBC Heritage Leaderboard
Trey Mullinax, Ryan Palmer, Daniel Berger, Luke List, and Ryan Moore are all tied for second, one shot off the lead set by Lowry. All of these players have had success on tour in the past. Mullinax and List are the only ones without PGA Tour victories. Both had runner-ups last season (Valero for Mullinax, Honda for List) and are due for a breakthrough.
After nearly winning the green jacket last week, Patrick Cantlay is back in the mix. The mellow California native has a lot of talent but only one career PGA Tour victory, the 2017 Shriners Hospital for Children Open.
Sam Burns made six birdies on his way to a round of 67. Burns is an up-and-coming star on the tour and has four top-25 finishes on the season.
Cameron Champ’s struggles continued with a first-round 74. The young power hitter started the year with a win at the Sanderson Farms Championship but has missed the cut at three of his last seven events, his best finish a T-28.
Graeme McDowell continues his mission to gain entry into the Open Championship in his home of Northern Ireland. He got off to a solid start on Thursday, shooting a first-round 68.
Through one round of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail Championship (seriously, we couldn’t find a shorter name?), Robby Shelton and Chase Seiffert hold the lead at -7. Shelton and Trey Mullinax were teammates at the University of Alabama, and this could be a life-changing week for the Crimson Tide pair. Chad Campbell, Austin Smotherman, and Matt Every sit one off the lead. Leaderboard
Eun Hee Ji leads through two rounds of the Lotte Championship in Hawaii. Nelly Korda shot a first round 62 before Ji jumped ahead on Thursday. Brooke Henderson and Morin’s Jutanugarn are amongst the others in the top 5. Leaderboard
Campus Roundup with Will Knights
Isaiah Salinda (Stanford) defeated Sean Yu (San Jose State) to win the 73rd Western Intercollegiate at Pasatiempo on Wednesday. Salinda won the Pacific Coast Amatuer at Olympic Club in December, and he becomes the third Stanford player to win this year. In the team competition, Stanford outlasted Cal by six shots to pick up its first victory of the year. Cal senior Collin Morikawa finished T-7, his WORST finish on the season.
The conference tournament schedule kicks off this week as the ACC Tournament gets underway in North Carolina. Duke and Georgia Tech are the favorites, but Virginia, Florida State, and Clemson are making their presence felt as well. Follow along HERE.
Passing the time
We put together this video on Alister MacKenzie designed Pasatiempo, host site of the Western Intercollegiate. Pasatiempo is home to one of golf’s greatest back nines and consulting architect Jim Urbina breaks down what makes it great over drone footage of each hole on the closing nine. Watch the video on YouTube and subscribe to our page.
While the Tour Championship will feature a new tiered scoring system this year, world ranking points will be given out in a more conventional fashion. The player who takes the least amount of strokes may not win the event but will receive full credit for a win in the eyes of the OWGR. Full story from Doug Ferguson
Another day another flagstick test, this time Golf Digest had a real scientist run some tests, and the data suggests you should pull the flag most of the time.
Ho-sung Choi is coming back to the PGA Tour. The John Deere Classic has a history of making the most of the their exemptions, and this year is no different. Story
Attention, Chicagoland readers! The Illinois Junior Golf Association is running its annual donation drive this week. The auction provides the opportunity to play at courses like Chicago Golf Club, French Lick, Olympia Fields, Conway Farms, and many more. All proceeds go to furthering the junior golf mission in Illinois. Find the auction and bid on these great opportunities HERE!
The Latest Podcasts and Articles
Shotgun Start: OWGR board’s grand troll of the PGA Tour, Midwest money, and Zurich as a Member-Guest
We begin this Friday’s episode with the news that the PGA Tour’s grand finale and the crowning FedEx Cup test will now feature two leaderboards, one hidden and one for public consumption. We revel in the OWGR sanction board holding this over the Tour’s head and making them work for it, and also the fact that a move made for simplicity has resulted in this weird and convoluted two-leaderboard system. Then we get to the matter of Mike Weir playing in Alabama and wonder how many players have gone from the Masters one week to the RTJ Trail the next. We also address the news of some big names committing to the new Detroit event and, combined with some star commits to the new Minneapolis event, question whether something untoward is happening on the money side with these tournaments. Some two-man teams for next week’s Zurich Classic are out, including one father-son duo that will certainly raise eyebrows and maybe even tempers in the locker rooms. We wrap with a Flashback Friday on two-time Heritage winner Payne Stewart and some of his early career achievements and under-achievements, including that stretch when he played Top Flite cavity back irons. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher or Spotify