Feliz Viernes mis amigos. Through one round of the Mayakoba Golf Classic, we have a three-way tie between a veteran, a rookie, and the Bozz. Matt Kuchar, Kramer Hickok and Dominic Bozzelli each shot a first-round 64 to grab a share of the lead on Thursday. They lead a very crowded leaderboard that embodies the moniker #liveunderpar. Ninety players shot under par on Thursday as the field sets up for a birdie fest this weekend. Leaderboard
The Law Firm of Kuchar, Bozzelli, and Hickok
Our trio at the top of the leaderboard each have varying backgrounds. Kuchar has obviously been around for centuries, but the long-time tour member hasn’t notched a top 5 since the Waste Management in February. His accuracy is a necessity in Mayakoba, so it isn’t a surprise to see him in a spot to contend.
Kramer Hickok and Dominic Bozzelli’s backgrounds are a little different background than the everlasting Kuchar. Hickok just earned his PGA Tour card a few months ago after an incredibly successful year on the Web.com Tour. The former Texas Longhorn (and Jordan Spieth roommate) finished T-23 last week in Vegas and continued his strong play on Thursday. Bozzelli has been on the PGA Tour the last two seasons but hasn’t had much success to this point. He notched just two top-25 finishes last season and is playing with limited status at the moment. A win would go a long way to helping both of their careers, so give them a cheer this weekend.
One shot back of the trio at the top is a GROUP OF 15 PLAYERS, each of whom shot 65 on Thursday. This group includes defending champion Patton Kizzire, who made a hallowed “American” (two eagles in a row), and Mexico native Abraham Ancer. Abe already has two top 5s on the season, so his hot start is almost expected.
Also in the tie for 4th are Bud Cauley, J.T. Poston and Stephan Jaeger, all up-and-comers on the Tour. Cauley is making just his third start since his car crash in June but seems to be rounding into form.
Other Leaderboard Notes
There are four players from Mexico currently within the cutline in Mayakoba: Ancer, Carlos Ortiz, Oscar Fraustro, and Armando Favela. Seeing one of the “hometown” kids win this event would be extremely cool and huge for the sport of golf in Mexico.
Two Oklahoma State players are in the field this week, and neither of them are named Matt Wolff. Zach Bauchou (-1) and US Am champion Viktor Hovland (+1) each got off to slow starts on Thursday, but they have a chance at making the cut on Friday. Then they have to head back to Stillwater and catch up on homework.
Sergio on Safari
Through one round in South Africa, Sergio Garcia has doubled up the field. The Spaniard shot an opening-round 64 (-8) and is four shots ahead of the rest of his competitors. Sergio did not have a great year in 2018 but since the Ryder Cup has seemed to find some serious form. Charl Schwartzel (68) and Louis Oosthuizen (69) are among the group of players that is closest to Sergio. Leaderboard
Shotgun Start: A good day for Tiger news and Jonathan Wall talks equipment free agency mania
Andy and Brendan take you into the weekend with a miscellany of golf news and an interview with ace equipment reporter Jonathan Wall of Golf.com. Andy starts with his exuberant joy about Bubba, just not that Bubba. The week ended with Tiger news on multiple fronts and they run through it. After some underwhelming announcements and botched promo attempts, The Match had a strong day with some intriguing details about the production and what it might mean for live wagering. They also review the field coming to Tiger’s Hero World Challenge and offer an irresistible option for one of the final two exemptions. Flashback Friday re-acquaints us with a player that won in Mexico a decade ago and could, in all likelihood, no longer cut it on the power-game PGA Tour. Finally, J-Wall educates us on just what the hell Honma is, why Justin Rose is going there, and regales us with some amusing stories of the equipment free agency game. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher or Spotify
The final event of the fall semester finished up on Wednesday, and USC competed a comeback for the ages at the Saint Mary’s Invitational. The Trojans started the day 17 shots back of the lead but walked away the victors by 8 shots. Issei Tanabe (65), Kyle Suppa (67), Kaito Onishi (66), and Justin Suh (67) shot four of the five lowest scores of the day and made a huge surge up the leaderboard.
ICYMI - Will Knights wrote a full recap on the fall college season with an NBA twist. Full Article
GCA 101: The Three Schools of Design
We put together a new Golf Course Architecture 101 post that details the three schools of golf course design. To accompany the video we put together a drone video with Tom Doak detailing the schools and how great courses have a mix of each of the principles. Watch the video and read the article on the site.
World #1 Ariya Jutanugarn leads the Blue Bay LPGA event in China. Leaderboard
The HERO World Challenge field was announced on Thursday. Fourteen of the top twenty players in the world will be in attendance, including host Tiger Woods.