Westwood Island

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Seeking his triple win

Charles Howell III and Ollie Schniederjans opened with 8-under 63's to lead at the John Deere. Howell is amidst a career year which includes two runner-ups and eight other top ten finishes. Despite a career full of high finishes, Howell has only two wins to his name, a shocking number for the talented vet.

A win for Schniederjans would place him in the mix for Rookie of the Year honors. The former top ranked amateur has three top ten finishes and entered the week 59th in the FedEx Cup points. Last week, Schniederjans was DQ'd for signing an incorrect scorecard. His total score was correct but his scores on two holes were flip flopped, leading to the DQ.

Trailing the pair at the top are Rory Sabbatini, Zach Johnson, Patrick Rodgers and Chad Campbell at 6-under par. Full scores

The Sponsor's Exemptions

As mentioned in Wednesday's newsletter, the JDC puts a lot of thought into their sponsor's exemptions. They offer golf's best young amateurs and pros spots, with the hopes they will remain loyal for years to come. Of this year's crop, recent Stanford grad Maverick McNealy is leading the way after a 2-under 69. The heralded amateur's round came due to his precise iron game ranking 8th in strokes gained: approach.

The other amateurs faired well, with Illini star Dylan Meyer finishing 1-under and t53rd. His teammate and All-American Nick Hardy fired an even par 71 to sit in a tie for 74th. Each will look to shoot a good number and make the cut in their PGA Tour debuts.

The professionals who received exemptions are also in the hunt to play the weekend.  Curtis Luck shot even par while Wyndham Clark fired a one-over 72.  Local pro David Lawrence has a shot at making the cut after shooting a two-over 73.

Year in and year out, the JDC shows that it is possible to give exemptions to players who are both competitive and interesting. Other tournament officials should take a cue.

Quite the close

Another high-profile young player in the field is 20-year-old Sam Horsfield. After earning his spot via the Monday qualifier, Horsfield birdied his final five holes on Thursday for an opening 66 and a share of 7th place.

Get your mind right

Sports psychologist Dr. Greg Cartin joins the podcast to discuss golf and the mind.  Doc works with a handful of PGA and Web.com Tour players on how they can better think their way around the golf course. We discuss how to get off to better starts and finishes to rounds and much more. Listen to the pod on our website, iTunes or Stitcher and please leave a review if you enjoy!

Scottish Open

Mikko Ilonen opened with a scintillating 7-under 65 on a cold and wet day at the Scottish Open. Llonen's round earned him a two shot lead over a pack of six golfers, which includes Padraig Harrington, Ian Poulter and Rickie Fowler.  The fourth of eight Rolex Series events, the Scottish Open has the best field this week.  Some other notables include Matt Kuchar (-4), Adam Scott (-3), Alex Noren (-2) and Rafa Cabrera-Bello (-2). Follow round 2 live scoring here or watch on Golf Channel.

One less on Westy Isle

One of the golf's longtime partnerships came to an end this week. Aging superstar Lee Westwood split with long-time agent Chubby Chandler. The split is reportedly due to a legal dispute between Westy and Chubby's agency, ISM. Westwood has replaced ISM with IMG as his agency of record as he heads to next week's Open Championship. The Open is likely one of Westwood's last shots at grabbing a major championship. The one achievement his decorated career lacks. Unfortunately for loyal Westy fans (me), the loss of Chandler means one more foreclosed home on Westwood Island.

The Wise Mize

Through one round at the Senior Players Championship, Larry Mize is out in front. The former Masters Champ fired an 8-under 64 to lead by one shot over Corey Pavin, Steve Flesch and Bernhard Langer. Full Scores

The major storyline at the Champions Tour's fourth of five majors continues to be the anchor ban. The two prime targets of discussion are Langer and Scott McCarron who both use a long putter. The most vocal critic has been the Golf Channel's Brandel Chamblee who went into detail on the topic.

The Women's Open

Shenshen Feng leads through the first round of the rain-soaked U.S. Women's Open. Feng was able to put together a clean-card of 6 birdies to sit one shot ahead of Amy Yang.  Right behind Yang is Lydia Ko and world number one So Yeon Ryu at 4-under. Full scores

King James

Former U.S. Amateur finalist James Driscoll is out in front at the Web Tour's Utah Championship. Driscoll fired a 9-under par 62 during Thursday's opening round and leads by two shots. Full scores

Despite winning the Web's Nashville Open last year, Driscoll failed to earn his PGA Tour Card. Currently, the Web's most interesting character sits 94th on the money list, in need of a strong week. The Utah Championship is one of seven remaining events in the Web Tour Season. The final stretch for players to make their way inside the top 25 or 75 on the money list. This assures them a spot on the PGA or Web Tour in 2018.

Quick hooks

Meyer’s backup plan if golf doesn’t work out.

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