Friday, November 04, 2016

Rod Pampling falls just short of 59 but takes two-shot lead at suspended Shriners Open

Rod Pampling
Rod Pampling (Associated Press)
Twenty-five years ago, Las Vegas had its first 59 in a US PGA Tour event. On Thursday, “Sin City” nearly had another – and by a player who wasn’t initially supposed to be in the field.
Rod Pampling, a 47-year-old from Redcliffe, Australia, fired 11-under 60 Thursday in the opening round of the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open at TPC Summerline. Pampling was among the 12 players who got into the field because of a clerical error – the field was scheduled to be reduced from 144 to 132 players because of the playing dates being moved to November (less daylight available), but the field change was never entered in the Tour’s system.
Pampling made the most of the Tour’s mistake.
Through 16 holes, Pampling was 11 under with seven birdies and two eagles, and needed to birdie one of his final two holes to break 60. But he missed a 21-footer for birdie at the par-3 17th and then failed to convert a 12-foot birdie putt on the par-4 finishing hole.
“I would’ve loved to have made one for a 59, but it was just a solid day all around,” Pampling told Golf Channel after his round. “… I’m glad I gave (the birdie putt at 18) a chance, didn’t come up short. It was a decent putt, it just didn’t find the hole.”
Pampling’s round was two shots better than John Huh and Brooks Koepka, who also played in the morning wave. Billy Horschel also played early and shot 7-under 64. Those three represent Pampling’s closest challengers after Day 1.
The accidental inclusion of 12 extra players turned out to be an just like the Tour predicted. Play was suspended due to darkness at 5:49 p.m. local (Pacific) time with more than two-dozen players still on the course. Play will resume Friday at 7:30 a.m. local time, with Round Two still scheduled to begin at 7:05 a.m. local time.
Among those still out on the course, Jon Rahm leads the way, sitting T-5 at 6 under through 16 holes. Other notables include Aaron Wise, the defending NCAA champion, who shot an opening 66 and sits tied for eighth. Ryan Moore and Kevin Na are tied for 31st at 3 under after opening 68s. At the end of the day, 83 players were under par. But none touched Pampling.
Here are some more golden nuggets from Pampling’s memorable day in Vegas:
MISSING OUT: Pampling fell just short of joining the Tour’s exclusive club of players who have shot 59 or better. Jim Furyk carded the Tour’s only 58 at this year’s Travelers Championship. Six others have shot 59, among those Chip Beck, who in 1991 shot 13-under 59 on Sunrise Golf Course during the third round of the Las Vegas Invitational.
SHOT OF THE DAY: Pampling’s most memorable shot from Thursday’s 60? Why, his second shot at the par-4 sixth. After a 283-yard drive, Pampling holed a 138-yard shot for an eagle. The eagle was one of two for Pampling on the round; he also hit a 232-yard shot from the rough to 6 inches at the par-5 16th and tapped home the putt. “This is the best I think I’ve hit my irons throughout my whole career,” Pampling said.
FLATSTICK ON FIRE: Through 13 holes, Pampling had needed just 16 putts. He finished with just 24 strokes on the green, but none was better than his birdie roll from 71 feet at the par-4 third hole. He was 14 of 14 on putts from inside of 10 feet.
CONSOLATION PRIZE: Pampling might not have got a 59 Thursday, but he did tie the TPC Summerline course record. J.J. Henry shot 60 in 2013.
KEEPING HIS CARD: The veteran Aussie made just half of his cuts in 18 starts last season on Tour. He made no top 25s and finished 195th in the FedEx Cup standings. He was able to keep his card, though, earning the 23rd position in the Tour priority ranking. Pampling turned pro in 1994 and joined the Tour in 2002. He played 20-plus events in every season since until 2013, when he lost full status and played a split-schedule between the PGA and tours in 2014 and ’15.



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