|1||David Pastore (U.S.)||33-33—66 (-6)|
|T2||David Sanders (U.S.)||33-34—67 (-5)|
|T2||Chris Korte (U.S.)||34-33—67 (-5)|
|T2||Alex Weiss (U.S.)||34-34—68 (-4)|
|T2||Stoney Crouch (U.S.)||33-35—68 (-4)|
|6||Tommy Cocha (Argentina)||35-34—69 (-3)|
DULUTH, Georgia—David Pastore is still a relatively new resident to South Florida, and he certainly isn’t removed from his Northeastern roots. The Greenwich, Connecticut, native knows cold and windy weather, and that’s what greeted players Tuesday morning for the first round of season-ending LOCALiQ Series Championship. It was 44 degrees when players teed off at TPC Sugarloaf, but none of that seemed to bother Pastore. The Mackenzie Tour player put together a seven-birdie, one-bogey, 6-under 66 that gave him a one-shot lead over David Sanders and Chris Korte. Alex Weiss and Stoney Crouch, at 4-under 68, are two behind. Of that quartet, Sanders (New Jersey), Korte (Colorado) and Weiss (Ohio) all grew up in cold-weather states. Only Crouch, from Texas, can’t make that claim.
“At the beginning of the day, I didn’t know what to expect with these conditions,” Pastore observed. “I had only played this course in warmer, more-benign conditions. I tried to stay patient just knowing how windy it was and how fast the greens were. Honestly, these were some of the faster greens I’ve played all year.”
Pastore spaced out his birdies on the front nine, making six pars and birdies at Nos. 1, 4 and 8. He maintained that trend, making the turn and parring the 10th and 11th holes, with another birdie at No. 12.
Pastore had just missed short birdie putts on Nos. 10 and 11—both inside five feet but “slippery putts” as he described them—when he came to TPC Sugarloaf’s holes that played into the wind. “I hit some really solid (approach) shots—again inside five feet, on both 14 and 15,” he stated. Pastore made those birdie putts then canned a 15-footer on 16 before closing bogey-par for his 66—matching his low 18-hole score of the season. He had a second-round 66 at The Classic at Callaway Gardens in August.
“Down-grain putts are really quick. I knew that making bogeys would be pretty easy to do. Fortunately, I got off to a good start, making some birdies, and had a solid round going until I made those three in a row on the back nine,” Pastore added.
“The last couple of days it has been sunny and 70 with a light breeze. I woke up this morning and it was 45 or 50 and blowing 15 to 20 (mph). The course played very different,” Pastore continued. “The ball wasn’t going as far, and the cold weather made the greens even firmer and faster. They were just very difficult conditions.”
Nobody walked off the course without the wind affecting play to some degree.
Korte, in particular, second-guessed his tee shot on No. 18 that led to a bogey at the par-5. While his two playing partners, Carson Jacobs and Myles Creighton, went for the green in two, Korte laid up then narrowly escaped hitting his third-shot approach into the water fronting the green. The ball stayed right on the edge, forcing an awkward chip/putt that left him a 22-footer for par, a putt he didn’t make.
“I ended up hitting a hybrid off the tee, and planning on making it a three-shot hole because it was so hard to trust that wind. You look at your yardage book, and you know [the wind] is out of the northwest, but you can’t feel it on a tee box,” said Korte, a native of Littleton, Colorado. “I just couldn’t trust hitting one down there. I wanted to, but I wanted to play it a little safe.
“I think that last hole, playing it conservatively, is a good lesson. I got a little bit tentative and ended up walking away with bogey,” Korte added. “I need to keep my foot down and on the pedal; just keep trying to make more birdies.”
“This actually brought up memories of teeing up in October, November in New Jersey,” said Sanders of the chilly weather. “My short game has been in tip-top shape, and I’ve been playing a lot on my home course in Florida. I’ve been putting up good numbers, hitting it very well. I felt confident going into this week.”
Argentina’s Tommy Cocha is alone in sixth place, at 3-under, while six players are tied for seventh.
Did you know David Pastore’s lone Mackenzie Tour title came at the 2016 Niagara Championship in Fort Erie, Ontario. Pastore opened and closed with 66s at Cherry Hill Club to outlast Dan McCarthy by a stroke. Even though Pastore only played four official events that season, the victory elevated him to 16 on the final Order of Merit.
Season Points Standings
Through the Classic at The Club at Weston Hills
|Pos.||Player (Home Tour)||Points||Previous Position|
|1||Bryson Nimmer (Mackenzie Tour)||1,419.000||1|
|2||Carson Young (Mackenzie Tour)||762.467||2|
|3||Toni Hakula (PGA TOUR Latinoamérica)||675.667||3|
|4||Hayden Shieh (Mackenzie Tour)||674.750||4|
|5||Justin Doeden (Mackenzie Tour)||580.500||67|
|6||Stoney Crouch (Mackenzie Tour)||552.333||5|
|7||Cooper Musselman (Mackenzie Tour)||509.500||6|
|8||David Pastore (Mackenzie Tour)||472.150||7|
|9||Alex Smalley (Mackenzie Tour)||412.000||8|
|10||Cole Miller (Mackenzie Tour)||356.083||9|
Note: The top-two finishers on the points standings will earn invitations to future, to-be-determined PGA TOUR tournaments along with the winner of this week’s LOCALiQ Series Championship.
Points leader Bryson Nimmer had a challenging opening round. He shot a 7-over 79 that included a triple bogey-7 at the par-4 fifth hole. The 79 was easily his worst 18-hole round of his six previous Series appearances. Nimmer is tied for 71st in this no-cut, 72-hole event.
Bryson Nimmer is a two-time winner this season. The other five LOCALiQ Series tournament champions are also playing this week. Leading the way is Stoney Crouch, with his 4-under 68. He’s tied for fourth. Carson Young shot an opening 70 and is at 2-under, tied for seventh. Toni Hakula played with Young and Nimmer in the final grouping of the day, and the Finn and former University of Texas golfer shot an even-par opening round score, leaving him tied for 21st. Cooper Musselman (tied for 49th) shot a 75, while Justin Doeden (tied for 65th) fired a 77.
Thirty-four players had scores in the 60s in the opening round.
David Pastore returned to form after a disappointing 73-74 performance at the Classic at The Club at Weston Hills in his last start. Before that, Pastore had turned in 18 consecutive par-or-better rounds, 17 of them under-par. Pastore opened with a 66 to hold the opening-round lead.
Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz continued his solid play, opening with a 2-under 70 Tuesday. Ortiz played in four of the previous seven LOCALiQ Series tournaments, never shooting an over-par score. His worst performance was an even-par 72 in the final round of the Classic at The Club at Weston Hills. Ortiz also played in PGA TOUR Latinoamérica’s season-opening Estrella del Mar Championship in Mazatlan. He fashioned scores of 66-65-67-64 that week in March to finish second to Brazil’s Alex Rocha.
Of the top-seven points earners, only Hayden Shieh can’t count a victory on his resume this season. He does, however, have two runner-up finishes (at the Alpharetta Classic and The Classic at Callaway Gardens). Shieh is in a group of six players tied for seventh, at 2-under.
Byron Meth stood on his 18th hole of the day—No. 9 at TPC Sugarloaf—at 4-under. When he finished the hole, he was even-par after making a disappointing quadruple bogey-8 there. Meth is tied for 21st.
Thirty-three of the 76 players who completed their rounds were even-par or better, with 20 players under-par at the par-72 layout that is home to the Mitsubishi Electric Classic, a PGA TOUR Champions tournament.
Native Georgian Stanton Schorr withdrew after three holes due to an injured back. Michael Feuerstein also withdrew due to injury, leaving 76 players for the final three rounds.
The four Argentines in the field are the most representing any country outside the U.S. The top performer Tuesday was TommyCocha. His 69 left him alone in sixth place. Other Argentines qualifying this week are Leandro Marelli (1-under 71), AndrésGallegos (even-par 72) and Jorge Fernández Valdés, who got engaged over the weekend and had his fiancée, Martina, walking with his group. Fernández-Valdés shot an 80.
Alex Weiss called his bogey on his 18th hole of the day (No. 9) “like a birdie.” After missing the fairway with his drive on the par-4, the ball fortunately stayed inbounds, settling amid some loose branches and two loose tree stumps. He moved one of the stumps and then hacked his ball back into the fairway. Facing a 190-yard third shot, Weiss hit that approach long and right of the pin that required him to putt through the fringe and down a significant slope. He left his par putt two-and-a-half-feet shy of the cup, and said afterward, “I could putt a hundred more balls, and I don’t think I could leave putt short.” Weiss made his comebacker for bogey “and felt great.”
“I know that it’s top three or bust really, because (finishing) fourth or fifth doesn’t get you a (PGA TOUR tournament) exemption. There’s not too much pressure this week, but it’s a nice four-round event with no cut. If I play OK, there’s really nothing to lose.” – David Pastore on his mindset entering this tournament eighth on the points list
“I don’t want to say it’s just play great or it doesn’t matter because you always want to play well. So, I just came in with a nice, free mindset.” – David Pastore
“We were in Atlanta a couple of months ago, and it was 100 degrees and super hot, humid and soft conditions. I seem to do better in these conditions just being from the Northeast and being used to the cold and wind.” – David Pastore
“I think I lucked out a little bit, getting an early tee time. It was a little chilly this morning, but we didn’t have nearly as much wind not as there is right now in the afternoon.” – David Sanders
“I’m from New Jersey. This actually brought up memories of teeing up in October, November up in New Jersey.” – David Sanders
“I haven’t felt this weather in a couple years. Now I’m a South Florida guy, and I haven’t had too many rounds where I’ve had to play in 40-degree weather like it was this morning.” – David Sanders
“I would just say solid. I made every cut but one, and I missed that cut by one (shot). I think I shot every round under par or even par, except for I think I shot 1-over in two rounds, and so it’s been steady. That’s probably the word I would use to describe my season.” – Chris Korte
“I putted fantastic. No bombs; just a few clutch par putts from about 10 to 12 feet. That’s kind of the difference between last week (at the Nevada Open) and this week.” – Chris Korte
“I was hitting them right on line, and then I made a few 10- to 15-footers here and there. These greens are so perfect that when you hit good putts, and you start them on line, they’re going to go in the hole.” – Chris Korte
“I went into today thinking if you shot anything under par, you probably played some solid golf.” – Alex Weiss
“I honestly expected to be a little colder for a little longer. It actually got almost comfortable, I guess. But with the wind picking up, especially on my back nine—my front nine—it was kind of tough to get aggressive with a lot of shots.” – Alex Weiss
“I did a good job of birdieing the easier holes, and just kind of keeping it in play.” – Alex Weiss
“At any 72-hole event, the first round is not taking yourself out of it. When you play 54-hole events, which is pretty much what we all played in college, it did feel like you were so much farther behind if you didn’t play great the first day.” – Alex Weiss
“I think you can say you played well without maybe hitting it well or doing things well. I played well by getting the ball around the golf course with kind of what I’m working with right now. Hopefully I can continue to do that because the game’s been here and there, spotty the last month or so.” – Alex Weiss
First-Round Weather: Sunny and cool. High of 58. Wind NW at 10-15 mph in the morning, increasing to 15-20 in the afternoon, with gusts to 24 mph.