Thursday 22 August 2019

Power makes perfect start in bid to retain PGA Tour card

Seamus Power shot an opening six-under 64 at the Wyndham Championships. Photo: Getty
Seamus Power shot an opening six-under 64 at the Wyndham Championships. Photo: Getty

Brian Keogh

Seamus Power made the perfect start in his bid to save his PGA Tour card by firing a six-under 64 in the $6million Wyndham Championship in Greensboro.

In a great example of perfect timing, the West Waterford star (32) finished with back-to-back birdies for his lowest round of the season and the joint lowest of his PGA Tour career.

Ranked 144th in the FedEx Cup standings, he was projected to move up to 123rd last night with only the top 125 qualifying for the first Play-off event next week.

He needs a top-five finish to keep his card or face a battle for survival in the Korn Ferry Tour Finals over the next three weeks, where the top 75 from the second-tier tour and the players ranked from 126th to 200th on the PGA Tour will fight it out for just 25 cards.

Power will have his sights set on a maiden win and a two-year exemption after an impressive bogey-free round - his lowest since his seven-under 64 in 2017 Barbasol Championship - left him in a five-way tie for fifth.

Dream

He was just two strokes behind South Korea's Byeong Hun An (27), who made eight birdies in a 62 to lead by a stroke from Canadian Mackenzie Hughes, Slovakia's Rory Sabbatini and American Patrick Rodgers on eight-under.

Power got off to the dream start, chipping in from 20 yards for birdie at the 10th - the first of five successful scrambles from five attempts.

He then eagled the 552-yard 15th from 30 feet and made a 15 footer for another birdie at the 17th to turn in 31.

After starting for home with seven straight pars, he hit a 100-yard approach to two feet at the eighth before slotting home a 26 footer at the 404-yard ninth to move inside the top 125 in his race for his card.

He was helped by soft conditions that allowed the field to prefer their lies, but he had to work hard at times and made up for two birdie misses inside eight feet at the 13th and 18th with eight single putts.

Pádraig Harrington found his scoring touch down the stretch and birdied three of his last six holes to share 44th after a two-under 68.

It was also a good day for the Irish at the Challenge Tour's Vierumäki Finnish Challenge where Mount Juliet's Gavin Moynihan (24) posted a bogey-free, four-under 68 to share 10th place.

He was five shots behind the Netherlands' Darius Van Driel with Tullamore's Stuart Grehan (26) joint 23rd after a six-birdie 69.

Portmarnock Links' Robin Dawson (23) and Ardglass' Cormac Sharvin (26) signed for two-under 70s to share 35th but Bangor's Daniel Peacock withdrew following a 79.

Van Driel (30) made nine birdies and an eagle in a nine-under 63 to lead by three shots from South African Bryce Easton, Spain's Ivan Cantero Gutierrez and Sweden's Rikard Karlberg.

On the over 50s circuit, Paul McGinley (52) was the best of the Irish after he opened with a three-under 69 to lie joint 11th in the Staysure PGA Seniors Championship at London Golf Club in Kent.

Australian David McKenzie (52), who pre-qualified on Monday, birdied three of his last five holes to lead by a shot from South Africa's Chris Williams with a bogey-free, seven-under 65 as the field mourned the late Gordon Brand Jnr (60).

The Ryder Cup winner, who also won twice on the Staysure Tour, passed away during the night, and an emotional minute's silence was held in his honour on the tenth tee at 12:35, when he would have teed off.

Mark McNulty was joint 28th after a 71 with Philip Walton and Brendan McGovern joint 55th after 73 as Des Smyth's 75 left him joint 70th.

In the AIG Women's British Open at Woburn, South Africa's Ashleigh Buhai (30) shot a seven-under-par 65 around the Marquess' Course to lead by a shot from Japan's Hinako Shibuno and American Danielle Kang.

Woburn's Charley Hull shrugged off first tee nerves at her home course to shoot 67 and share fourth with Korea's Sung Hyun Park, Thailand's Moriya Jutanugarn and American Megan Khang on five-under.

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Women's British Open, Live

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