LaBelle takes one-shot lead at Winn- Dixie Jacksonville Open on Day 1

Doug LaBelle
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Doug LaBelle hit 15 of 18 greens in regulation Thursday en route to his first-round 65.
By news services

Series: Tour

Published: Thursday, October 18, 2012 | 9:59 p.m.

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Doug LaBelle II fired a 5-under 65 on the Dye's Valley Course at TPC Sawgrass Thursday to take a one-stroke lead in the first round of the Winn-Dixie Jacksonville Open, the final full-field event of the Tour season.

Tied for second with a 4-under 66s are Camilo Benedetti, Josh Persons and Russell Henley.


The Winn-Dixie Jacksonville Open is the final full-field event of the 2012 Web.Com Tour season.

There are 10 players two shots back at 67, including Woody Austin, Hudson Swafford, Kevin Foley, Blayne Barber, Ben Martin and two-time winner Ben Kohles.

"I was just trying to hit greens," said LaBelle, who hit 15 of 18. "Fairways and greens were my main focus."

The University of New Mexico alum currently ranks 54th on Tour in greens in regulation averaging 68.97 percent per round.

"I hit a lot of greens and I took advantage of the majority of my opportunities, which I think is pretty hard to do on this golf course," said LaBelle. "Of the three greens I did miss, I got two of them up and down. I also left them in places where I could get them up and down."

LaBelle, who hasn't played a full season on the PGA Tour since 2008, is just trying to take it one shot at a time and focus only on those things he can control.

"I can't worry too much about what happens behind me. I can't worry about what's going on up ahead of me and what holes I've got coming up," he said. "I just need to play each shot as it comes and execute it the best that I can."

The Michigan native is currently in 25th place on the Tour money list, with a win earlier this year at the Utah Championship. With three rounds to go, the PGA Tour veteran could secure his place inside the top 25 on the money list and earn his PGA Tour card for 2013 with a good finish this week.

Camilo Benedetti, who is one shot back, believed that the conditions in the morning set up perfectly for a low score.

"You know this wind, out of the south, I think makes the golf course a little easier than wind out of the north," the former Florida Gator revealed. "You still have some holes, like 16 and 17 that are into the wind. Seventeen into the wind is kind of a tough hole. But it's playing soft and the greens are still pretty soft right now. As long as you hit the fairways, you can score."

Russell Henley won in a playoff a few weeks ago at the Chiquita Classic and finished third last week at the Miccosukee Championship.

"I played well last week; I've been playing well the last couple of weeks," said the former Georgia Bulldog. "Nothing is perfect but I am confident and I feel good physically and I feel good mentally as well."

The Georgia native has secured a spot inside "The 25," but he still has a chance with a good finish to this tournament and a high finish at the Tour Championship to take over the No. 1 spot on the money list at year's end.

First-Round Notes:

--Play was called at 7:00 p.m. with nine players left on the course. They will be in position to start at 8:30 a.m., and Round 2 will start as scheduled at 7:35 a.m.

--Three eagles were made, and they were all on par 4s: Kevin Johnson (No. 3), Scott Gardiner (No. 4) and Sam Saunders (No. 7)

--Hudson Swafford's 5-under 30 on the front nine ties the low nine for this tournament.

--The final stop of the 2012 season is next week's Tour Championship (Oct. 25-28) at TPC Craig Ranch in McKinney, Texas, where 25 PGA Tour cards for 2013 will be awarded to the leading money winners.