Down to his last chance to earn a PGA Tour card, Ashley Hall opened the Web.com Tour Championship with his second-best score of the year — even though he called a penalty on himself.
Hall bounced back from that penalty shot to birdie two of his last three holes for a 7-under 63 on the Valley Course at the TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra, Fla.
That gave him a one-shot lead Thursday over Robert Karlsson of Sweden and Mark Anderson.
Karlsson, a former Ryder Cup player, needs a big week to get back to the PGA Tour.
The Web.com Tour Championship is the last of four tournaments for 25 players to earn PGA Tour cards for next season. The top 25 are decided by a money list from the four tournaments. Players who already finished in the top 25 on the Web.com Tour money list from the regular season are assured a card.
Because of rain all week and still some in the forecast, players competed under preferred lies. Hall placed his ball in the 15th fairway, and after grounding his club, noticed the ball move slightly. He called for an official and gave himself a one-shot penalty for his only bogey of the round.
“I put it on a good a lie and the Bermuda grass wasn’t strong enough,” he said. “I could tell as soon as I put my club on the ground that I moved the ball.”
Hall has never had a PGA Tour card and would need a top finish this week at Sawgrass.
“It’s going to be nice to get out in the morning,” he said. “Hopefully, it is still soft.”
Karlsson is only slightly better off. He was at No. 72 on the special money list — about 22 spots away from getting one of the 25 cards available.
“A couple of years ago I didn’t want to step foot on a golf course,” the Swede said. “But now I’m playing well and had a good run recently.”
Karlsson opened with five birdies in seven holes and kept bogeys off his card on a cloudy day at PGA Tour headquarters.
64 leads Dunhill
England’s Oliver Wilson boosted his chances of regaining a European Tour card, shooting an 8-under 64 for a share the first-round lead in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in St. Andrews, Scotland.
Playing on a sponsor’s exemption, Wilson had an eagle and six birdies in windy conditions at Kingsbarns.
England’s Tom Lewis also had a 64 at Kingsbarns, and England’s Richard McEvoy, Chile’s Mark Tullo and France’s Alexandre Kaleka matched the score on the Old Course.
Oregonian loses final
Doug Hanzel, a 56-year-old from Savannah, Ga., won the USGA Senior Amateur, beating 59-year-old Pat O’Donnell of Happy Valley, Ore., 3 and 2 in the championship match at Wade Hampton Golf Club in Cashiers, N.C.
SIXTH USGA TITLE
Ellen Port, a 52-year-old school teacher from St. Louis, defended her Senior Women’s Amateur title with a 3-and-2 victory over 50-year-old Susan Cohn of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., in San Martin, Calif. It was Port’s sixth USGA title.
This week: Web.com Tour Championship, Thursday through Sunday, Dye’s Valley Course, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
In the field: University Place’s Michael and Andrew Putnam, and Olympia’s Andres Gonzales.
First-round scores: Both Putnam brothers shot 2-under 68s; Gonzales shot an even-par 70. They trail leader Ashley Hall (63).
Positions: The Putnam brothers, both graduates of Life Christian, are tied for 19th. Michael Putnam, the Web.com Tour’s money leader this year, is assured of playing on the PGA Tour next year. Andrew Putnam needs to finish no worse than 12th or 13th this week. Gonzales, a Capital High graduate, needs to finish better than 10th.
Recap: Michael Putnam, starting on the back nine, had a stretch of three birdies in five holes and reached 3-under par before a bogey on No. 8, his 17th hole. Andrew Putnam, who also started on the back, had a steady round that included a pair of birdies on the front. Gonzales reeled off four birdies in the first seven holes to reach 3 under for his round. But all of those strokes leaked away on the back nine, topped by a bogey at the 560-yard par-5 16th.
Tee times Friday: Gonzales goes off at 4:30 a.m. (PDT) from the 10th tee. Andrew Putnam is on the first tee at 4:41 a.m. and Michael Putnam is on the first tee at 10:04 a.m.