ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. — Cameron Young birdied his last hole in the dark and held his game together during the worst of the rain Thursday to share the lead with Eric Cole and Davis Thompson at 6-under 66 among those who managed to finish the first round at the RSM Classic.
A one-hour rain delay in the morning was followed by a 2 1/2-hour delay in the afternoon because of rain that left puddles on the green and small pools in the bunkers at the Seaside and Plantation courses at Sea Island.
Only 65 players from 156-man field completed the first round. It was to resume Friday morning, and with good weather in the forecast the rest of the week, it shouldn’t take long to get the tournament back on schedule.
Young, Cole and Thompson, the son of RSM Classic tournament director Todd Thompson, all played the Plantation course, which is a par 72.
Matt Kuchar, whose runner-up finish last week in Bermuda all but secured his spot in two $20 million tournaments early next year, was at 5-under 65 after birdies on three of his last four holes on the wind-exposed Seaside course.
Cole is a leading candidate to be PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, and a good finish in the final tournament of the long season could not only secure that but possibly move him high enough in the world ranking to get in the Masters.
Cole and Young finished among the top 50 in the FedExCup and already are assured of being in the all the signature events with the $20 million purses next year. Young played in Mexico a few weeks ago to start shaking the rust off, and he’s off to a good start in search of his first PGA Tour victory. In his second year on Tour, he has contended enough, particularly in the majors, to be No. 18 in the world.
His final birdie putt from 8 feet was pleasing because it was getting so dark after the delays that it was hard to read the break. As for the par on his fourth hole, No. 13 at Plantation, when he pulled his tee shot into the water?
“That was like 12 hours ago,” he said. “I kind of forgot.”He remembered the key detail, which was taking his penalty drop and ripping a 5-iron onto the green and making the putt. He followed with four birdies over the next five holes, and then held on as the rain came down hard.
“We got the worst of it on 4, the par 5. It’s already like 625 [yards] or something and I hit about as good a drive as I can and about the best 3-iron I could have to still have like 125 yards in, which doesn’t happen all that often,” Young said. “That hole was playing about 750 probably.”
It was on-and-off for so much of the day before the heavy stuff arrived.Ludvig Åberg had 14 pars to go with three birdies and an eagle late in his four a 5-under 67 while playing alongside Young. Open champion Brian Harman, who came close to winning at Sea Island last year, had to settle for a 71 at Plantation.
Rain at RSM Classic doesn’t dampen season-ending intriguePlayers vying to play their way inside the top 60, top 125 and top 150 on the FedExCup Fall points list dominated the Day 1 at Sea Island Resort.
Rex Hoggard, Rex Hoggard,8hRussell Knox was among the early starters and shot 66 on the Seaside course, an important start because he is No. 146 in the FedExCup. Only the top 125 get full PGA Tour cards for next year. The top 150 at least have conditional status.
“I’ve joked with my family, like 80% of the time I’m a world-class player, the other 20% of the time I’m a 20-handicap,” Knox said. “Those moments are killing me. I drove the ball the worst I’ve ever driven it this year and that’s the reason why I’m in the position I’m in. The rest of my game has been pretty good, to be honest.
“So it’s been difficult, but at the same time it’s not supposed to be easy, right?”