DAVIDSON Hudson Swafford admits that he’s done a little more scoreboard watching than paying attention to his golf game the pst four weeks – and with predictable results.
But Swafford stuck with his game plan Thursday in the opening round of the Chiquita Classic, shooting a 5-under-par 67 at River Run Country Club to share the lead with fellow Americans Ben Kohles and Edward Loar, and Australian pro Nick O’Hern.
Playing with the morning group, Swafford avoided the bogeys that beset most of the challengers in the second event on the PGA Web.com Tour Finals. He made three birdies and added an eagle on River Run’s 537-yard par-5 No. 6, finishing with his best opening-round score in nearly two months.
“I’ve been close the last few weeks – just had a couple swings hold me back,” said Swafford, whose last Web.com Tour victory came in May 2012 in Athens, Ga. “Today, I just stayed patient and played boring golf. I gave myself a lot of chances, hit a lot of greens and hit a lot of fairways. I took a lot of pressure off myself.”
That wasn’t the case for Swafford over the past month on the Web.com Tour.
After finishing tied for 10th in Canonsburg, Pa., in early August, Swafford went on to miss the next four tournaments. He missed the cut in three events – including the Web.com Tour Finals opener last week in Fort Wayne, Ind. – and had to withdraw from the tour’s regular-season finale in Omaha, Neb., because of a minor knee injury.
That nearly knocked Swafford out of the running for the Web.com Tour Finals – he finished 65th in earnings, with the top 75 advancing for a shot at earning a full-season PGA Tour card – and put him in a hole after missing the Finals opener.
“I put a little more pressure on myself than I needed,” Swafford said. “I probably did a little too much scoreboard watching, worrying about what else was going on instead of what I was doing like I did today.
“I had to stick to my game plan this week instead of worrying about what other people were doing. … When I do that, I play a lot better golf.”
Four players – D.J. Brigman, Matt Davidson, Troy Merritt and Peter Tomasulo – were one shot back at 4-under 68. Six others were at 3-under 69, and 15 more at 2-under 70 with three rounds remaining.
Former Masters champion Trevor Immelman, who won the Web.com Tour Finals opener last week in Fort Wayne, Ind., struggled Thursday at River Run. He shot a 1-over 73, with four bogeys offsetting three birdies. So did PGA Tour veteran and Charlotte resident Robert Karlsson, who had two birdies and three bogeys.
Kiser: 704-895-3662; Twitter: @Bkiser_CLTObs.
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