Archive for September, 2017

Keith Mitchell continues to build on his lead with a potential PGA TOUR card in sight

Second-Round Leaderboard

Pos. Name Score
1 Keith Mitchell 65-67—132 (-10)
2 Seth Reeves 70-64—134 (-8)
3 Andrew Landry 68-67—135 (-7)
4 Ryan Armour 68-68—136 (-6)
Abraham Ancer 66-70—136 (-6)

Keith Mitchell continues to build on his lead with a potential PGA TOUR card in sight at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship

Columbus, Ohio – Just five days after coming up one shot short of securing his PGA TOUR card, Keith Mitchell is showing no signs of any lingering scar tissue this week in Columbus after taking the 36-hole lead by three shots at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship, the first of four Web.com Tour Finals events. Mitchell, who opened the day with a one-shot lead, posted a 4-under 67 in breezy conditions at the Scarlet Course at The Ohio State University Golf Club. At 10-under 132, he leads Seth Reeves by two for the first 36-hole lead of his career.

“I think [last week] has a lot to do with it. It’s more like a chip on my shoulder,” Mitchell said. “I’m kind of just out there, you know, just playing with 100 percent on every shot. And you know when you get that close you’re going to get just one shot away from a whole entire season of golf, you don’t really have time to just sit back and be complacent on the golf course. So we’ve been trying to really go 100 percent on every shot, no matter what the circumstances are, and it’s really paid off so far.”

It doesn’t hurt Mitchell’s cause that he’s continued to put on a ball-striking clinic and might be striking the ball better than anyone else in the field on one of the hardest courses the Web.com Tour sees each year. Through two rounds on the 7,455-yard layout, he’s hit 30 of 36 greens in regulation (second best in the field), ranks second in putts per green in regulation and has posted a field-leading 12 birdies.

“I’ve been hitting a lot of knockdown shots out there, especially in the wind,” Mitchell said. “Just keeping myself under control. A lot of times when I get a little out of whack, I swing too hard and try to hit the ball too far and too high. So really working on that and kind of controlling my distances better and it’s really paying off.”

Mitchell’s been on a tear in recent weeks with a T11, T3, and T6 in his last three starts. He even held a share of the lead after 54 holes last week in Portland and thinks the pressure of playing for a TOUR card down the stretch on Sunday last week will have him better prepared for playing with the lead this weekend.

“I just think we can handle it better now. I felt better than I ever had last week when I had the lead going into Sunday. And then after what happened, I just feel like I’m going to keep getting better and better,” Mitchell said. “So you know, it is only Friday afternoon. So we’re trying not to really feel like we’re protecting a lead or anything like that. We gotta play great this weekend. And it might feel different on Sunday having the lead, but right now just trying to make it routine.”

Reeves’ round was anything but routine, getting within one of the course record with a 7-under 64 as 20-30 mile per hour gusts swept through the golf course to get within two of Mitchell.

“I was just trying to make as many as I could. I was just like trying to go catch [Mitchell] really,” Reeves said. “I mean it was tough, but for some reason I like playing in the wind. All my best rounds this year have been in the wind, I feel like. So you kind of wake up and you see the wind and think it’s going to be a tough day, but when I get out there, I feel really comfortable in it. And just got off to a good start. Hit some good shots, some things went my way, and I’ve been putting really well, for I mean months honestly. And the ball striking has come together and that’s where the scores come from.”

Andrew Landry, who trails by three in solo third, has already locked up his TOUR card, but will nevertheless have his heart on his sleeve this weekend. Following the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, he’ll be playing for his hometown of Port Neches-Groves, Texas this weekend. The 30-year-old will be donating a percentage of his winning’s this weekend to Hurricane Harvey relief, a storm that’s had devastating implications for his brother and his family and friends that still live in in the little town outside of Beaumont, Texas.

“This is a pretty intense week with a lot of family members back home losing a lot of their stuff, and especially my brother he lost everything with the hurricane,” Landry said. “I’m playing this week, and I’m going to donate a lot of my earnings to the Harvey victims, and we’re going to try to get involved with that somehow or some way. So playing right now for Southeast Texas.”

Landry’s parent’s home was fine in the storm, but his brother wasn’t so lucky. After leaving Portland, they’re all currently staying at Landry’s residence in Austin as they await word of when they can get back into their homes.

“My brother has about six or seven feet inside his house,” Landry said. “Thankfully they didn’t lose their Suburban. It was parked at the airport. They were out in Portland with us. My parents, the same, were out in Portland with us. So their vehicles were fine. And then we’re just going to play it by ear right now. They’re not going to be able to get back into their house until maybe late next week to even see what the damage is. I know for sure they’ve got a lot of water in there.”

FRIDAY NOTES:
* Friday weather: Cloudy and breezy. Wind N 10-18 mph with gust of 20-30. High of 65.
* This week’s purse is $1M with $180,000 awarded to the champion.
* This is the first tournament in the Web.com Tour Finals, a series of four events that will conclude at the Web.com Tour Championship in Atlantic Beach, Fla., Sept. 25-Oct. 1. Twenty-five PGA TOUR cards were awarded last week following the WinCo Foods Portland Open presented by Kraft Heinz. An additional 25 cards are up for grabs during the four Finals events, as well as positioning for all 50 cards.
* A total of 71 players made the 36-hole cut, which came at 2-over 144.
* Tee times for the third round will be 8:00 am to 10:00 am off No. 1 & 10 in threesomes.
* This is seventh time in the tournament’s 10-year history that the cut has been over par.
* This is the sixth time in 23 events the 36-hole cut has been over par on Tour this year:
11-over The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic
4-over United Leasing & Finance Championship
2-over The Bahamas Great Abaco Classic
2-over Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship
1-over Club Colombia Championship
1-over Panama Claro Championship

* This is the third year of the Finals format and it’s difficult to estimate exactly how much money it will take to finish in the top-25 on the Finals money list and collect one of the remaining 25 PGA TOUR cards that will be handed out in a few weeks.

Here’s how much money the No. 25 man on the money list earned in each of the past two years:
2013 No. 25 Bobby Gates $33,650.00
2014 No. 25 Eric Axley $36,311.66
2015 No. 25 Rob Oppenheim $32,206.00
2016 No. 24 Cody Gribble/Kelly Kraft* $35,125.00
2017 No. 25 ??? ???

*denotes three events played (Web.com Tour Championship was cancelled)

* In his 40th start, Keith Mitchell holds the 36-hole lead of a Web.com Tour event for the first time. Mitchell has recorded a T11 (Ellie Mae Classic at TPC Stonebrae), T3 (News Sentinel Open presented by PILOT) and a T6 (WinCo Foods Portland Open presented by Kraft Heinz) in his last three events. In that span, Mitchell has posted only one round over par (R2 – 73 – Ellie Mae Classic).

* Seth Reeves’ 7-under 64 in the lowest second-round score at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship in the 10-year history of the tournament. Reeves also tied his lowest score on Tour this season (R1 – 64 – Air Capital Classic). In 21 starts, Reeves has made nine cuts and recorded two top-10s.

* Abraham Ancer arrived in Ohio at No. 3 on the Tour money list, just $73,233 behind Brice Garnet. A solo second or better this week would place Ancer in first since Garnett missed the cut. Ancer is the only player inside the top 10 on the money list without a Tour win this season. He has recorded three runner-up performances in 20 starts this season. The first-round 5-under 66 was his lowest round at the Scarlet Course. He enters the weekend four back. In 2015, Ancer started the third round of the Nova Scotia Open in a tie for 37th place but carded weekend rounds of 64-68 to defeat Bronson Burgoon in a playoff.

* Local favorite and former Ohio State Buckeye Ryan Armour opened with 68-68, tying his lowest score on the Scarlett Course since 2009 (R4 – 68). Armour, who enters the weekend four back (T4), has missed the cut in his last six appearances in Columbus and has only broken par twice in that span. Armour played this season on the PGA TOUR and posted one top-10 in 20 starts (T4 – Wyndham Championship) and finished the season No. 160 in the FedExCup standings.

* Peter Uihlein is currently No. 12 in the European’s Tour Race to Dubai. Uihlein carded back-to-back 69s and is 4-under-par, T6, in his Web.com Tour Finals debut. In seven starts on the PGA TOUR this season, Uihlein made five cuts and posted three top-25s including a T5 at the Puerto Rico Open. Uihlein has made two appearances at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship. In 2011, Uihlein recorded rounds of 69-67-70-68 for a 10-under-par score that placed him in a tie for ninth.

* Former U.S. Amateur champion Curtis Luck carded his second even-par 71 in as many rounds and is in T31 heading into the weekend.

* Leading money winner Brice Garnett posted rounds of 74-71 and missed the 36-hole cut by one stroke.

* Scoring averages for the week:
Front (36) Back (35) Total (71) Cumulative
R1 36.531 35.608 72.138 —
R2 36.167 35.921 72.087 72.113

 

Round 1 Highlights

Columbus Zoo Visit

KEITH MITCHELL TAKES FIRST-ROUND LEAD

First-Round Leaderboard

Pos. Name Score
1 Keith Mitchell 65 (-6)
2 Abe Ancer 66 (-5)
  Sam Saunders 67 (-4)
  Alex Cejka 67 (-4)
5 Nine players tied at 68 (-3)

 

Columbus, Ohio – After falling just one-shot shy of securing his PGA TOUR card a week ago in Portland, Keith Mitchell showed no signs of an emotional hangover Thursday with an opening round 6-under 65 to grab the first-round lead by one over Abraham Ancer at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship. With 25 more PGA TOUR cards on the line over the course of the four-event Web.com Tour Finals, Mitchell knows he can easily atone for coming up shy as the No. 26 guy on the Regular Season money list, and that rebound started with seven birdies and a bogey at the Scarlet Course at The Ohio State University Golf Club.

“I mean the new system gives us a huge chance. I mean once you finish 26-75, everybody starts fresh,” Mitchell said. “That can be a good thing or a bad thing, but this week we’re trying to look at it as a good thing. We’re here, and if we play good like we’ve been playing the last couple of weeks, I don’t think last week is going to matter at all.”

That doesn’t mean it was any easier to sleep Sunday night. After failing to make birdie on any of the last three holes, he estimated he only slept about 45 minutes with the replays continually running through his head and in front of him on his TV.

“I stayed up all night until 5 AM watching the coverage. I think I was hoping maybe the guy out there would do something different,” Mitchell said. “I didn’t really sleep at all that night, thinking about it and all the scenarios that could have happened, but I think it’s good for me in the long run. There’s no way that I could learn that or teach that unless something like that happened.”

He thought about the missed six-footer for birdie at the 16th and the 20-foot putt that came up just one revolution shy for birdie at 17. He thought about the 72nd hole, too, where he thought he needed an eagle at the last to get his TOUR card and subsequently tried to hole the chip, when he only needed a birdie to secure 25th TOUR card handed out.

“I knew I couldn’t dwell on it because I still have a great opportunity to get my PGA TOUR card. I know I’m playing well, and I have four weeks to do it. So, I tried to focus on that as much as I could. Yes, everyone wants a putt to go to the PGA TOUR, and unfortunately not only did I miss it but I didn’t know it was to go to the TOUR. But now I have four more tournaments, so if I play like I’m playing I’ll give myself plenty more chances.”

Mitchell gave himself plenty of chances Thursday after opening with a bogey at the second. On the day, he hit 16 of 18 greens. With three more ball-striking days like that, he could have the immediate vengeance he seeks come Sunday.

“It was a nice round,” Mitchell said. “Pete, my caddie, is always staying positive out there, and I needed that today. I really hit it well and was pretty stress free. Didn’t have any par putts outside a couple feet. So I was very fortunate to get some good breaks and just execute what I needed to do.”

If Mitchell’s looking for an example of the model he hopes to emulate, he need look no further than Xander Schauffele, who finished in 26th on the 2016 Regular Season money list but secured his TOUR card in the Finals here in Columbus with a T9 finish and went on to win on TOUR this season.

Fresh off back-to-back top-10s, Mitchell feels like his game is in prime position to follow Schauffele’s example in not letting the Regular Season bubble define his year.

“It’s kind of easing a little bit just knowing that you still have a chance,” Mitchell said. “I mean I’m playing the best I’ve played in a while coming into this week. So, I’m just trying to float on that.”

Ancer, who opened with a bogey-free 5-under 66, arrives on the heels of his third runner-up of the season – and fifth top-five.

“Felt great. The course is in awesome shape,” Ancer said. “The game plan was to hit as many fairways as possible and then really be very disciplined with the second shots. The greens are firm out there. So, you can’t really short side yourself. So, I was able to do that for the most part and made some putts on both sides. So, it was a pretty solid round, not many mistakes. So, I’m pretty happy.”

Sam Saunders and Alex Cejka opened with 4-under 67s to jump into a share of third after one round.

THURSDAY NOTES:

* Thursday weather: Mostly sunny. Wind N 8-16 mph. High of 78.

* This week’s purse is $1M with $180,000 awarded to the champion.

* This is the first tournament in the Web.com Tour Finals, a series of four events that will conclude at the Web.com Tour Championship in Atlantic Beach, Fla., Sept. 25-Oct. 1. Twenty-five PGA TOUR cards were awarded last week following the WinCo Foods Portland Open presented by Kraft Heinz. An additional 25 cards are up for grabs during the four Finals events, as well as positioning for all 50 cards.

* This is the third year of the Finals format and it’s difficult to estimate exactly how much money it will take to finish in the top-25 on the Finals money list and collect one of the remaining 25 PGA TOUR cards that will be handed out in a few weeks.

Here’s how much money the No. 25 man on the money list earned in each of the past two years:
2013    No. 25 Bobby Gates                            $33,650.00
2014    No. 25 Eric Axley                               $36,311.66
2015    No. 25 Rob Oppenheim                                   $32,206.00
2016    No. 24 Cody Gribble/Kelly Kraft*          $35,125.00
2017    No. 25 ???                  ???

*denotes three events played (Web.com Tour Championship was cancelled)

Round 1 Photo Gallery (Thursday, August 31, 2017)