Kyle Thompson and Brandt Jobe carded matching 9-under 63s on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Nationwide Tour’s Price Cutter Charity Championship. Chris Nallen and Justin Hicks sit one shot back.
Both players began their opening round on the back nine at the par-72 Highland Springs Country Club, and both did the majority of their work on that nine. Thompson equaled the tournament’s nine-hole record with a 7-under 29, thanks in large part to a perfectly-struck 5-wood from 237 yards to 12 feet for an eagle on the par-5 18th hole. Jobe was nearly as good, posting a 6-under 30.
“I played great all day, especially my first nine,” said Thompson, who played the final five-hole stretch on that nine at 6-under (B-B-B-B-E). “I made a lot of 15-footers and one bomb (a 30-footer for birdie on No. 17) on the front nine and shot 29. But I bogeyed No. 11, the easiest hole on the golf course. If I had birdied there, like 90 percent of the field, I would have really been rocking. But it was fun though. I’m not complaining.”
Despite the setback on No. 11, Thompson (No. 31 on the official money list) continued his solid play of late, which includes five top-25 finishes in his last seven starts and a season-best runner-up finish at the Fort Smith Classic.
“I shot 63 on Sunday last week,” said Thompson, speaking of a final-round score that led to a tie for 17th in Wichita. “This is the third week in a row I’ve shot 63. So I asked my caddie at the start of the day which round he wanted me to shoot 63 this week. He said all of them. He is kind of greedy.”
Greediness aside and momentum on his side, many feel this could be the week for Thompson to add a third title to his victories in 2007 at the Rex Hospital Open and the Oregon Classic.
“Confidence is everything,” said Thompson. “It is hard to play bad all year and then all of a sudden crank it up and win a tournament. I’ve been playing really good golf the last eight or 10 weeks, but I haven’t put together a four-round tournament yet. Last week I played three of the four rounds great and then I was 1 over in the other round. Then in Omaha I was leading after two rounds and shot 2 under on the weekend and got lapped. I’m close to doing some great things but I’ve got to play a four-round tournament.”
Jobe’s opening 18-hole score is his best on the Nationwide Tour, topping the third-round 64 that led to a tie for 11th at last week’s Preferred Health Systems Wichita Open.
“Today, I drove it well, hit my irons well and rolled it well,” said Jobe, who ended the day with 26 putts and 15 of 18 greens in regulation. “It was very solid and it was fun. I wasn’t out there worrying about what was going to happen next. You know, boring golf is what we’re all trying to achieve. Hit fairways and greens and make putts.”
A long-time veteran of the PGA Tour and playing his first full season on the Nationwide Tour, Jobe is making his 14th start of the year, with a season-best third-place finish at the South Georgia Classic.
“This is my first year out here,” said Jobe, currently No. 39 on the official money list. “It is a totally different mindset on this Tour. These kids have no fear. I’ve got to get a little more aggressive. I’m 45 under over the past three weeks and that doesn’t add up to a lot out here.”
First-Round Notes: Co-leaders Kyle Thompson and Brandt Jobe represent the University of South Carolina Gamecocks and the UCLA Bruins, respectively. Those two teams battled in the finals of the NCAA College World Series, with the Gamecocks topping the Bruins for their first national championship in baseball. … Incidentally, two weeks ago at the Cox Classic in Omaha -- home of the College World Series -- Thompson shared the second-round lead and was paired in the third round with former UCLA Bruin Kevin Chappell.
Play was suspended due to a dangerous situation at 2:45 p.m. and resumed at 3:57 p.m. It represents the 11th tournament of the year with a suspension of play. … The last four first-round leaders on the Nationwide Tour have opened with 63s, including Jonathan Kaye at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Invitational, Steven Bowditch and Kyle Thompson at the Cox Classic and Matt Davidson at the Preferred Health Systems Wichita Open. None of those players went on to win. … The first-round leader/co-leader has gone on to win just twice in 18 events this season, and both of those came in the first two events of the year (Robert Gates at the Michael Hill New Zealand Open and Jim Herman at the Moonah Classic).
The par-4 seventh hole played the toughest on Thursday with a 4.058 average, yielding 28 birdies, 96 pars, 27 bogeys and five double bogeys. … The par-5 11th hole was the easiest at 4.442, yielding 11 eagles, 82 birdies, 49 pars, 11 bogeys and three double bogeys. … The par-72 course played to an average of 70.013. … Bogey-free rounds were carded by Justin Hicks (64), Scott Gardiner (65), Brian Smock (66), Todd Fischer (66), David Hearn (66), Jason Schultz (66), Tag Ridings (66), Bubba Dickerson (66), Daniel Summerhaps (66), Tommy Biershenk (66), Matthew Borchert (67), Chad Ginn (67), Chris Kamin (67), Sal Spallone (67), Gary Woodland (68), James Hahn (68), Scott Sterling (68), Marco Dawson (69).