I got to the course as the sun was coming up to check out Thursday’s first round of the Web.com Tour’s Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship, the 3rd leg of 4 of the Web.com Tour Finals. The finals series serves as the last chance for Web.com Tour players who were good but not great in 2016 and PGA Tour pros who struggled to earn their spot on the PGA Tour during the 2016-2017 season.
There were a few great pairings to choose from, but my early morning golf centered around watching the Beef - Scott Stallings - Grayson Murray. I left the afternoon to roam and take in ction from more groupings.
1. Beef is a star - While the crowds can hardly be described as large at an early Thursday morning Web.com event, Beef had the people there buzzing. While Beef struggled, especially at the start, he managed to battle like great players do, finishing with 3 consecutive birdies to shoot 1-over and salvage his chances for a high finish. The big man has a great combination of power and touch, which should lead to a long stay on the PGA Tour. What impressed me most though was Beef’s patience and attitude throughout the round. It was clear he was fighting his swing, but it didn’t affect the way he acted or treated the fans and volunteers.
2. Grayson’s got game - I heard from a couple of people about the long-hitting Murray’s game and color me impressed. Murray is really long as he was routinely 10-15 yards in front of Beef, one of the longest hitters on the European Tour. Couple Murray’s power with his nice wedge game, and it’s easy to see how Murray led the Web.com Tour in birdie average during the regular season. It will be fun to watch Murray on the PGA Tour next season.
3. The Mad Scientist - Playing in the group behind Beef, DeChambeau struggled on Thursday shooting a 2-over-par 73. I first saw DeChambeau on the putting green where he was setting up some sort of putting device that required a t-square and a 20’ string. DeChambeau has gotten a lot of flack for slow play from golf pundits, but I was impressed he was always ready to hit. I watched DeChambeau for a few holes but unfortunately just didn’t find him interesting to watch. I am certain that DeChambeau will be a fixture on Tour, but to me, the guy is just too unrelatable, odd and quirky to be a star.
4. Soon to be locked up - One of my favorites on Tour (alumni bias), D.A. Points, spent the 2015-2016 regular season in no man’s land having only conditional status, thus limiting the amount of starts he could get. Points was playing ahead of Beef, so I got to take in a few holes, and his game is sharp. Points was constantly on the fairway and close to flags, leading to a solid opening-round 69. After strong performances in the first two legs of the Web.com Tour finals, Points is in the top 10 in money and is one more solid showing away from his 2016-2017 PGA Tour card.
5. The Big Unit - He is an unmistakable man on the golf course that I was lucky to spot in the afternoon. I saw a billow of smoke float at the crest of a hill and the massive Kiradech Aphibarnrat emerge. It was a hot day in Columbus and Aphibarnrat was sauntering in the afternoon heat, towel draped over his shoulder and e-cig in hand. The Barn Rat has made hay most of his career on the Asian and European Tours but is looking to earn full playing status on the big tour. I watched Aphibarnrat play a few holes, and the big man can move it.