Here are nine tidbits from the opening round of the 60th Desert Classic that gamers can use tomorrow, this weekend or down the road. The Stadium Course at PGA West serves as the host course but the 156 pros will also get a chance at La Quinta Country Club and the Nicklaus Tournament Course at PGA West.
Phil Mickelson became the first golfer in the ShotLink era to post three rounds of 60 or better as he opened at La Quinta with 60. He circled 10 birdies and an eagle as turned in a clean card for the third time in the desert. His other two rounds of 60 were posted at TPC Scottsdale and he went on to win both of those events. Not bad for “rusty”!
Luck and Long
Last week at the Sony Open, Curtis Luck WD and Adam Long took his place in the field. This week they’re both in the field and hold second and third place after Round 1. Long opened with a bogey on the Nicklaus Tournament course but rattled off eight birdies and an eagle for solo second. This is his sixth start on TOUR. Luck, the decorated Aussie amateur who is trying to find his way on TOUR, posted his career-best round of 64 at La Quinta for solo third. This was his second round in the 60’s this season in 13 rounds.
These were the top-10 selected golfers in the PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf game. If you’re wondering why you’re not doing well, here’s why:
|4||Charles Howell III||T18||51.30|
History tells us that La Quinta and Nicklaus Tournament are the two easiest courses on TOUR. I’d adjust your lineup to avoid The Stadium Course especially with 15-25 mph winds forecast for tomorrow.
Sitting T4, Hadwin has the advantage the next two days as he posted his 65 (-7) on The Stadium Course. Even though he’s five behind, he’ll get 36 cracks at birdie over the next two days to make up those five shots. He’s never finished worse than T6 in this new rotation that began in 2016.
Jon Rahm went through a rough experience defending at Torrey Pines last year so this time around he should feel much more comfortable. His play suggests he is as he circled seven birdies against one bogey at La Quinta. Last year he opened with 62, the low round of the week, on this track before defeating Andrew Landry (T31) in a playoff.
New Clubs, New Caddie, No Problem
World No. 1 Justin Rose showed up in the Coachella Valley with 10 brand-new clubs and Henrik Stenson’s caddie. Stenson and Rose have played a million Ryder Cups together so this isn’t an issue. The new clubs were broken-in under the bright lights on the easiest course on TOUR for 68 (T31). Gamers will be keeping a watchful eye but it’s not a complete woods/iron/balls switch so the change shouldn’t be hyper-dramatic.
Stadium Course Leaderboard
Playing 70.885, it was the most difficult of the three courses used in Round 1. The players below are ahead of the curve entering Round 2.
|T18||Jose de Jesus Rodriguez||67|
I thought this week would break a few guys out of slumps. Let’s see if a few names on the list can keep up the hot play.
The pressure is on for those who didn’t break 70 today. Previous champs Charley Hoffman (-1), Hudson Swafford (-1) Bill Haas (E), Pat Perez (E) and Jason Dufner (+7) will need something special the next two days; Dufner will need a miracle.
La Quinta checked in at 69.423 (-2.577) while Nicklaus Tournament was almost as generous at 69.712 (-2.288). … There were 20 bogey-free rounds. … Mickelson’s 10 birdies led the field while Whee Kim, holder of the Stadium Course record at Web.com Q-School with 63, didn’t make a birdie on La Quinta today. He was the only player not to put a circle on the card in Round 1. … Shane Lowry leads by one after 36 holes in Abu Dhabi on the European Tour. … At the Singapore Open weather is playing havoc but forever young Davis Love III is T10 in Round 1. … Zecheng (Marty) Dou held off furious rallies from Ben Kohles and Steve LeBrun to win the first Web.com Tour event of the season in the Bahamas.