PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Down to his last chance to earn a PGA Tour card, Ashley Hall opened the Web.com Tour Championship with his second-best score of the year – even though he called a penalty on himself when he noticed his ball slightly move.
Hall bounced back from that penalty shot to birdie two of his last three holes for a 7-under 63 on the Valley Course at the TPC Sawgrass. That gave him a one-shot lead Thursday over Robert Karlsson of Sweden and Mark Anderson, who already is assured his PGA Tour card.
Karlsson, a former Ryder Cup player, also needs a big week to get back PGA Tour card back.
The Web.com Tour Championship is the last of four tournaments for 25 players to earn PGA Tour cards for the 2013-14 season. The top 25 are decided by a money list from the four tournaments. Players who already finished in the top 25 on the Web.com Tour money list from the regular season are assured a card.
Hall was in dire need of a round like this.
The 29-year-old Australian had a chance to earn his card from the Web.com Tour money list last month until he missed the cut in the final regular-season event and missed out on the top 25 by $1,922. If that wasn’t bad enough, he missed the cut in the last three events.
Because of rain all week and still some in the forecast, players competed under preferred lies. Hall placed his ball in the 15th fairway, and after grounding his club, noticed the ball move slightly downward. He called for an official and gave himself a one-shot penalty for his only bogey of the round.
Hall has never had a PGA Tour card and would need a top finish this week at Sawgrass.
Karlsson is only slightly better off. He was at No. 72 on the special money list – about 22 spots away from getting one of the 25 cards on offer – was nearly $13,000 away from at least having a mathematical chance at his card. Karlsson opened with five birdies in seven holes and kept bogeys off his card on a cloudy day at PGA Tour headquarters.
Anderson, who earned his card by finishing No. 8 on the regular-season money list, also opened with a 64.
Shane Bertsch, at No. 97 on the special money list, joined Chesson Hadley at 65. The group at 66 included Henrik Norlander and Billy Hurley III, both of whom need a strong finish to get their cards.
Vaughn Taylor, another former Ryder Cup player, was 21st on the list of those who don’t have a card. He opened with a 71 and was outside the cut line. The top 60 and ties make the cut on the Web.com Tour.
The field over the last month was for the top 75 players from the Web.com Tour and players who finished No. 126 through 200 in the FedEx Cup on the PGA Tour.
England’s Wilson shoots 64, shares lead
ST. ANDREWS, Scotland — England’s Oliver Wilson boosted his chances of regaining a European Tour card, shooting an 8-under 64 for a share the first-round lead in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
Playing on a sponsor exemption, Wilson had an eagle and six birdies in windy conditions at Kingsbarns.
England’s Tom Lewis also had a 64 at Kingsbarns, and England’s Richard McEvoy, Chile’s Mark Tullo and France’s Alexandre Kaleka matched the score on the Old Course at St. Andrews.
Wales’ Jamie Donaldson had the best score at Carnoustie, shooting 65.
The final round will be played at St. Andrews.
Diabetic Hanzel wins USGA Senior Amateur
CASHIERS, N.C. — Doug Hanzel won the USGA Senior Amateur, beating Pat O’Donnell 3 and 2 in the championship match at Wade Hampton Golf Club.
The 56-year-old Doug Hanzel, from Savannah, Ga., opened a three-hole lead with a par on the par-4 15th and matched O’Donnell’s birdie on the par-4 16th to end the match.
A physician specializing in pulmonary critical care at Southeast Medical Group, Hanzel uses an insulin pump to control his diabetes. The 59-year-old O’Donnell, from Happy Valley, Ore., is a reinstated amateur who works as a maintenance analyst for Boeing.