Several hot scores, notably from 2015 Champ Paul McBeth, Josh Anthon, Zach Melton, and James Conrad matched the unseasonably warm Rock Hill, SC temperatures Tuesday during Round 1 of the USDGC.
Normally during tournament time, the weather feels closer to fall than summer, but not this year with a high of 86 and even warmer weather expected in the coming days. The warm weather, though, didn’t seem to bother guys like Round 1 leader McBeth, who had a bogey free -13 that was reminiscent of Round 1 in 2014 when he shot a blistering -14.
Here's McBeth securing birdie on Hole 14.
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Looking at McBeth’s scorecard on UDisc Live, it’s amazing to only see a few holes without the birdie shade of blue. McBeth tallied birdies evenly throughout the course including on Hole 16 where his smooth forehand drive produced an easy birdie putt, which was followed by a birdie on Hole 17. On the final hole, his approach put him at least 40 feet out, so he decided to lay up for this third shot since he faced a downhill, high risk putt. Later, he said he wasn’t feeling his beyond-the-circle-putt that day, so he decided to play the smart move.
Zach Melton was having a very quality round, but then slipped up on Hole 13 with a bogey, however, he didn’t let it bother him. After making a good drive within the circle on the following hole he was back on the birdie train. He said a lot of people feel like you have to do something heroic after a mistake at Winthrop, but that’s not true, you just have to right the ship and continue.
Josh Anthon would’ve been -12, except for an early bogey on Hole 4. Besides that, his round was blemish free. Anthon, who’s been a recurring USDGC Contender for many years was last in contention during the 2012 USDGC when he battled with Will Schusterick and Ricky Wysocki on the final round’s lead card and later took 3rd place. With Anthon catching fire early this year, he could go far yet again.
James Conrad also only had one misstep, a bogey on the final hole. His -10 will bring him to his first USDGC Lead Card.
Eagle McMahon found himself in the pack after his -4. He wasn’t too crazy about his three bogies, but he was satisfied that nothing worse happened. He plans to regroup for Round 2.
“With this event it’s about getting your bearings and seeing where you’re at,” said McMahon.
The two women in the field, Paige Pierce and Paige Bjerkaas, will look to regroup as well for Round 2. Pierce ended up with a +10 while Bjerkaas submitted a +14.
As an homage to, two of the event’s greatest champions, Ken Climo and Barry Schultz were grouped together for the 8:30 a.m. tee time along with Nate Metzler and Jalle Stoor. Though Climo’s hip injury would not allow him to play the entire round, he was able to complete the hole. A modest sized gallery gathered at Hole 1’s tee for the early morning tee time – a tee time Schultz or Climo probably weren’t accustom to since the top players generally play later.
Though Climo had plans of only one hole, he wanted to make it count.
“It was fun. I was just trying to rip one for the ace,” said Climo afterwards, adding that he got a little over on it, resulting in a mid-range that turned over and landed a little outside the circle’s edge. Climo still had a putt for birdie, but hit the band and had to settle for par.
As expected, after Hole 1, Climo pulled out of the event so he wouldn’t aggravate his hip injury, but he did walk with Schultz through Hole 3, having a good chat with a man he’s had many epic rounds with.
Though Climo won't be playing any more during the event, he will be sharing his USDGC insight as a guest commentator during the live coverage of Round 3 and Round 4.
Check out the special Round 1 tee time for Climo and Schultz here: