NEWBURGH, Ind. – Patrick Sheehan and John Peterson fired 6-under 66s Thursday to share the first-round lead at the United Leasing Championship on the Web.com Tour.
Oklahoma State’s Kevin Tway and Australian Adam Crawford are in third place after 5-under 67s at the Victoria National Golf Club.
Nine players are in at 4-under 68, including leading money winner Michael Putnam and Andrew Loupe, who roomed with co-leader Peterson for three years at Louisiana State.
“I drove it great, hit my irons very well and had a lot of short birdie putts,” said Sheehan, who hit 12 of 14 fairways. “You can’t attack this course from the rough. The tee shot is going to be the most important shot every hole this week.”
The Victoria National course ranked as the eighth-toughest on tour last year when it played firm and fast amid a record heat wave in the Evansville area. The course has already been doused by more than six inches of rain this week alone, but it’s still proving quite a test.
“You can’t run a ball up on the greens because the fairways are still so soft,” said Sheehan. “There aren’t a whole lot of greens where the front is open anyway.”
The key to this week – according to almost every player – is driving the ball straight. Thursday’s opening round was played with lift, clean and place conditions in effect.
“You’ve got to hit the ball in the fairway because the rough is so tangled and long,” said Peterson, who also hit a dozen fairways. “You’ve got to put it where you can see it and if you can’t see it in this rough you’re in trouble.”
Tway, who was 6 under through his first 10 holes, echoed the sentiments of the others.
“It’s just survival golf out here, especially when the wind blows,” he said. “Hitting a 2-iron and winding up in the fairway is a lot better than smacking driver and winding up in that rough.”
--Kevin Kisner registered back-to-back eagles on Nos. 9 and 10. Kisner, who started his day with a triple bogey on the first hole, wound up with an even-par 72. He is the third player this year to have consecutive eagles and the second in as many weeks. Michael Putnam had back-to-back eagles in the third round at last week’s Rex Hospital Open.
--Kevin Tway’s 5-under 31 on the front nine matched the lowest 9-hole score on the front nine last year. Lee Williams carded his 31 last year in Round 2.
--Kent Jones (68) and Billy Hurley (69) were the only players to finish without a bogey. Hurley was also perfect off the tee, hitting all 14 fairways.
--Leading money winner Michael continued his outstanding play with a solid, 4-under 68 that put him tied for fifth. Putnam’s only mistake of the day came at the 18th hole, where he made bogey.
“I almost gave it away there at the end,” he said. “As long as you can keep your mistakes to a bogey or a good, hard-working par you can stay in this golf tournament. You’re going to find trouble out there for sure.”
--Fan favorite John Daly stumbled toward the end of his day and finished with a double bogey and two bogeys on his final four holes for a 2-over-par 74.
--Chesson Hadley, winner of last week’s Rex Hospital Open and No. 3 on the money list, rallied with birdies two of his last five holes for a 74.
“It was a little bit of a hangover round,” said Hadley, who has four top-6 finishes in his past five starts. “I just didn’t feel connected at the start. My aim was open the first seven or eight holes and I was hitting some giant hooks or pull draws. Once we got that figured out, it was much better.”
--Indiana grad Steve Wheatcroft posted an even-par 72.