Andrew Svoboda and Brandt Jobe carded 8-under 63s Thursday and share the first-round lead at the Miccosukee Championship in Miami. Svoboda used a pair of eagles in the morning to grab the clubhouse lead while Jobe hit 16 greens during the afternoon to join him at the top in the Nationwide Tour event.
Vermont rookie Keegan Bradley, a recent transplant to the Sunshine State, shot a 7-under 64 and is tied for third with Canadian David Hearn, who played with Jobe in the first round.
Jason Gore and Utah Championship winner Michael Putnam are next at 6-under 65 and share fifth place. Seven more players are tied at 5-under after periodic rain showers softened a normally difficult Miccosukee Golf & Country Club course.
“I played here on Tuesday and I saw the scores driving in and thought ‘my god they’re shooting low’,” said Jobe, who matched his low score of the year. “I just didn’t see it (happening). With the soft greens and the fairways become a little wider so you’re not in the Bermuda and it’s not so dry so it’s flying – all those things add up.”
Thursday’s opening scoring average of 70.174 made it the single-lowest scoring average in the tournament’s seven years.
Low scores aside, both Jobe and Svoboda are looking to close out the 2010 schedule with a bang. Jobe, a 9-year veteran of the PGA TOUR, is No. 23 on the money list and would like to finish in the top-25 when the year ends in South Carolina on Halloween Sunday.
“I told my caddie I’m looking for 11 more good rounds,” he said. “I took last week off to get my mind right so I can come out and play three solid golf tournaments. That’ll take care of things for me and get me back where I’ve been. I’m getting old so we’ll see how many years I have left!”
The top-25 money winners at the conclusion of the Nationwide Tour Championship at Daniel Island will earn their PGA TOUR cards for 2011.
Svoboa, a New York native in his first full season on Tour, has played in all 26 events this season and enters the week No. 54 on the money list. Only the top-60 will advance to the Tour Championship.
“It’s what I need,” he said of his best round of the year. “I need a couple of good tournaments here. I’m kind of on that number, I think I’m 54. I would like to just have a nice tournament. I’ve been playing well all year. I’ve got a bunch of top-25s and two top-10s, just no top-5s. Maybe I’ll get one this week.”
If he keeps banging 45-footers into the pin from off the green for eagles, he’ll certainly have a chance to contend.
“I was putting through the fringe and I hit it pretty hard,” he said of eagle at the par-5, 10th. “I got lucky when it hit the pin and went in. It was going way by.”
Until Jobe stepped in late in the day, the leaderboard belonged to, of all schools, the boys from St. John’s University. Svoboa and Bradley, a 2008 graduate, were holding down the top two spots. While the location may have been new for Svoboda, Bradley has certainly seen his name up there plenty of times.
The 24-year old nephew of LPGA Hall of Famer Pat Bradley is headed for the big show next year, thanks to a runner-up finish earlier this summer and his T3, T3, T5 efforts the past three weeks.
“The game just seems easier to me right now than it did earlier in the year,” said Bradley, who is No. 12 on the money list. “It’s nice to know I’m set for next year but at the same time I know that every spot I finish higher, the more tournaments I’m going to get into.”
* Brady Schnell (75) withdrew after the first round.
* Andrew Svoboda had a pair of eagles on par-5s today (Nos. 5, 10). He is only the third player in the tournament’s seven-year history to record two eagles in a single round.
* Keegan Bradley’s 6-under 29 tied the tournament record for the front nine.
* Travis Wadkins, a 23-year old Texan who is making his first career start on Tour this week, shot a 3-under 68 today. Wadkins finished eagle-par-birdie for his round of 68. He is T20 after the first day. If the name looks familiar, it should. Travis is the son of 21-time PGA TOUR winner Lanny Wakdins. Travis is a 2010 graduate of Wake Forest University.
* Six of the top-10 leading money winners are not competing this week: No. 1 Jamie Lovemark, No. 2 Chris Kirk, No. 5 Hunter Haas, No. 6 Martin Piller, No. 8 Kevin Chappell and No. 10 Bobby Gates. Lovemark and Chappell received sponsor exemptions in this week’s PGA TOUR event, the Frys.com Open in San Jose, Calif.
* James Hahn, No. 25 on the money list, shot a 1-under 70 and it T59 heading into Friday.
* Fran Quinn, No. 60 on the money list, withdrew prior to the start of play. Quinn is a member of the PGA TOUR this year after finishing No. 25 on the money list in 2009 but has been on the shelf with back problems since the end of April. His season was cut short after just seven starts. Quinn was on property earlier in the week but said he didn’t think his back was ready for the stress put on it by a golf swing.
* There is one full-field event left on the 2010 schedule after this week – the Winn-Dixie Jacksonville Open. The season ends with the top-60 money winners competing at the Nationwide Tour Championship at Daniel Island, Oct. 25-31.