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OPELIKA, Ala. — Notes and quotes from the Round 1 of the PGA TOUR Barbasol Championship, being held at the RTJ Golf Trail Grand National Lake Course.

(Notes provided by the PGA TOUR)

Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 9.34.33 PM2015 Barbasol Championship
(The 37th of 43 events in the PGA TOUR Season)
Purse: $3,500,000 ($630,000)
Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Grand National (Lake Course)
Par/Yards: 35-36—71, playing 7,302 yards
FedExCup points: 300 (to the winner)
 First-Round Notes – Thursday, July 16, 2015
Weather: Partly cloudy, with highs in the mid-90s. Winds WNW 7-12 mph.

First-Round Leaderboard
Sam Saunders         64 (-7)
Jason Gore              65 (-6)

Sam Saunders (Photo: PGA TOUR)

Sam Saunders (Photo: PGA TOUR)

Sam Saunders Fires 64 for the Lead
While images of golfing legend Arnold Palmer at St. Andrews ran heavy in Open Championship coverage, the World Golf Hall of Fame member’s grandson, Sam Saunders, quietly opened with a career-low and bogey-free, 7-under 64, thousands of miles away in Opelika, Ala.

Interestingly, 54 years ago this week (July 14), Palmer captured his first of two Open Championship titles. August 20th of this year will also mark the 60-year anniversary of Palmer’s first career win on the PGA TOUR, the 1955 RBC Canadian Open.

As a professional, Palmer won the 1955 RBC Canadian Open in his 30th start on TOUR. Should he win this week, Saunders would do so in his 45th start as a professional.

Saunders’ 64 marked his third bogey-free score on the PGA TOUR; 3-under 67 in round two of 2011 FedEx St. Jude Classic (MC) and 4-under 66 in round one of the 2010 Waste Management Phoenix Open (MC).

Saunders is making his 24th start of the 2014-15 PGA TOUR Season, having earned his way out via the Web.com Tour. His 13th-place finish on that Tour’s 2014 priority list afforded him his first, full season on the PGA TOUR.

Saunders nearly claimed his first TOUR title earlier this season at the Puerto Rico Open. With a final-round, 4-under 68, he played his way into sudden death with Emiliano Grillo, Jon Curran, Tim Petrovic and eventual winner Alex Cejka.

Before today, Saunders had never been higher than T4 after any first, second or third round on the PGA TOUR.

The first-round leader has emerged victorious just five of 33 times on the PGA TOUR this season. The last to do so was Bubba Watson at the Travelers Championship three weeks ago.

Jason Gore Finishes Strong
Jason Gore birdied four of his last five holes (Nos. 5, 6, 7 and 9) en route to a 6-under 64 which, in relation to par, ties his lowest score of the year (64/R1/Travelers Championship).

Gore made a return to the PGA TOUR for the 2014-15 season by virtue of his 10th–place finish on the 2014 Web.com Tour priority list. On that Tour last year, he claimed a pair of runner-up finishes, as well as two third-place showings.

Gore, who initially joined the PGA TOUR in 2001, has bounced between the Web.com Tour and PGA TOUR since. The 2014-15 PGA TOUR Season marks his first, full-time return to the TOUR since 2009.

Gore is making his 20th start of the 2014-15 season, with a T10 at the Travelers Championship being his only top-10 finish. He is making his 242nd overall start on TOUR, having amassed 15 top 10s and one win (2005 84 Lumber Classic).

Martin Flores
Texas native Martin Flores made seven birdies and just two bogeys en route to a 5-under 66. He bogeyed the par-5 sixth hole and wasn’t able to get up and down to save par at No. 18, a par four.

Flores remains in search of his first career PGA TOUR win in his 136th start this week. His best finish is solo-third at the 2014 Wells Fargo Championship.

Flores is making his 26th start of the season this week, with a best finish being T16 at the Puerto Rico Open.

Flores hit 10 of 14 fairways in regulation and 16 of 18 greens.

Flores made a return to the TOUR this season by virtue of his 112th-place finish on the 2014 FedExCup points list.

Flores’ rookie year on the PGA TOUR was 2010. Unable to maintain his card for the following season, he played the Web.com Tour in 2011, where his 24th-place finish on the money list graduated him back to the PGA TOUR. He has been there since.

Currently at No. 150 in FedExCup standings, Flores needs to finish inside the top 125 to retain his fully-exempt status for next season and make his way into the Playoffs this season.

Will Wilcox
Birmingham native Will Wilcox took advantage of a home state vibe and opened with a 5-under 66.

Will Wilcox

Will Wilcox

Wilcox grew up just outside Birmingham in Pell City. He lived and worked temporarily in the Opelika/Auburn area. His mother played golf at Auburn University.

Wilcox played golf for the University of Alabama-Birmingham, before transferring to Clayton State in Georgia. There, Wilcox was a three-time All-America, winner of the Peach Belt Conference Championship and seven other college events. He also won the 2008 Alabama Amateur.

Because of travel delays this week, Wilcox was only able to play the front nine on Tuesday. Because of inclement weather Wednesday, he only got through the front nine again during the pro-am. Today’s first round was the first time Wilcox ever laid eyes on Grand national’s back nine. On Nos. 10-18, he made three birdies and one bogey.

WIcox, who earned conditional status to the PGA TOUR this season after finishing No. 142 in 2013-14 FedExCup standings, is making his 13th start of the season. He has collected top-10 finishes at the Puerto Rico Open (T6) and last week’s John Deere Classic (T8). He comes into the week ranked No. 128 in FedExCup points.

Maverick McNealy
Playing on a sponsor invitation, Division I Jack Nicklaus Player of the Year Award winner Maverick McNealy opened with a 5-under 66, highlighted by five birdies and an eagle-three at No. 5. The Stanford golfer is currently the No. 2 amateur in the world and is making his third career start on the PGA TOUR this week (T60/2015 The Greenbrier Classic and MC/2014 U.S. Open).

Erik Compton
On the heels of four-consecutive missed cuts, Erik Compton birdied his last hole (No. 9) to open with a 4-under 67. The 67 today is his lowest opening-round score since posting a 6-under 66 in round one of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

Compton remains in search of his first career win on the PGA TOUR this week in his 132nd start. Compton’s closest brush with victory came at the 2014 U.S. Open, where he finished T2. Compton held a share of the 54-hole lead earlier this year at the CareerBuilder Challenge in Palm Springs, before a final-round, 2-under 70 resulted in a T10, his lone top-10 finish in 23 starts this season.

Miscellaneous Notes
The Barbasol Championship is the first PGA TOUR event in Alabama since the 1990 PGA Championship.

With only eight events remaining before the FedExCup Playoffs, the Barbasol Championship will play an important role in the field for the first Playoffs event at The Barclays.

The Barbasol Championship and the FedExCup Playoffs
In 2014, it took 438 FedExCup points (No. 125/Robert Allenby) to qualify for the FedExCup Playoffs. Below are players in the field that are currently on “the bubble” for the FedExCup Playoffs:

FedExCup Position                 Player                         FedExCup Points

120                                          Mark Wilson                391
123                                          Brian Stuard                377
124                                          Billy Hurley III              372
126                                          Scott Langley              365
128                                          Will Wilcox                   358
129                                          Alex Prugh                   353
130                                          Brice Garnett               352
132                                          Blayne Barber              345
134                                          Michael Thompson      339
135                                          Charlie Beljan              337
140                                          Ryo Ishikawa               321

Players with ties to the State of Alabama include: Smylie Kaufman/Birmingham native (71), Blayne Barber/Auburn (69), Josh Broadaway/Troy State (76), Glen Day/born in Mobile, (72), Patton Kizzire/Auburn (71), Steve Lowery/Alabama (71), Ben Schlottman/ Auburn (75), Robby Shelton/Alabama (68), Heath Slocum/South Alabama (74), Zack Sucher/UAB (71), Michael Thompson/Alabama (67), Brett Wetterich/Wallace State Community College(71) and Will Wilcox/UAB (66).

Michael Thompson is in the last year of his exemption from winning the 2013 Honda Classic. He is currently outside of the top 125 in the FedExCup standings, at No. 134. Thompson attended Tulane University two seasons until the school disbanded its golf team after Hurricane Katrina. He transferred to the University of Alabama and was the 2008 SEC Player of the Year.

Other Barbasol Championship sponsor invitation recipients
Richy Werenski, winner of the Golf Channel’s reality TV competition program “The Big Break,” earned an exemption through the show. Werenski is a Web.com Tour member and has never made a start on the PGA TOUR. Werenski opened with a 2-over 73.

Former Auburn golfer Patton Kizzire is currently No. 1 on the Web.com Tour money list. He will be looking for his second made cut in his fourth career start on the PGA TOUR (T54/2014 McGladrey Classic). Kizzire opened with an even-par 71 at this week’s Barbasol Championship.

Entering his sophomore season at Auburn, Ben Schlottman is making his first career start on TOUR. He was the SEC Freshman of the Year and earned 2015 All-SEC first-team (first freshman in Auburn history to be named All-SEC first-team). Schlottman posted a 4-over 75 in today’s first round.

Entering his junior season at Alabama, Robby Shelton is making his second career start in a PGA TOUR event. He missed the cut last season at the U.S. Open. Shelton opened with a 2-under 68.

Bogey-free rounds:
R1: Sam Saunders (64), David Toms (69), Austin Cook (69) and Tyrone Van Aswegen (70).

Scoring Averages at the par-71 Grand National (Lake Course):

                        Front 9             Back 9             Total                Cumulative

R1:                   35.754             35.006             70.760

Morning Scoring Average:        70.61
Afternoon Scoring Average:      70.92

The easiest hole in round one was par-5 13th hole, playing to an average of 4.315. The most difficult hole was the par-3 eighth, with an average of 3.423.

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Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 9.34.33 PMOPELIKA, Ala. — Notes, tidbits and other info from the Barbasol Championship, to be played on the Lake Course at Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Grand National.

(Notes provided by the PGA TOUR)

2015 Barbasol Championship pre-tournament notes
Dates: July 13–19, 2015
Where: Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Grand National, Lake Course, Opelika/Auburn, Alabama
Par/Yards: 35-36–7,302, par-71
Field: 132
2014 champion: inaugural event
Purse: $3,500,000/$630,000 (winner)
FedExCup: 300 points to the winner
Format: 72-hole stroke play
Website: www.barbasolchampionship.com
Twitter: @BarbasolPGATOUR

David Toms is one of only three major championship winners in the field of 132.

David Toms is one of only three major championship winners in the field of 132.

A look at the 2015 Barbasol Championship

  • The Barbasol Championship will be the first PGA TOUR event in Alabama since the 1990 PGA Championship.
  • With only eight events remaining before the FedExCup Playoffs, the Barbasol Championship will play an important role in the field for the first Playoffs event at The Barclays.

The Barbasol Championship and the FedExCup Playoffs

In 2014, it took 438 FedExCup points (No. 125/Robert Allenby) to qualify for the FedExCup Playoffs. Below are players in the field that are currently on “the bubble” for the FedExCup Playoffs:

FedExCup Position                  Player                          FedExCup Points

120                                          Mark Wilson                391

123                                          Brian Stuard                377

124                                          Billy Hurley III              372

126                                          Scott Langley              365

128                                          Will Wilcox                  358

129                                          Alex Prugh                  353

130                                          Brice Garnett              352

132                                          Blayne Barber             345

134                                          Michael Thompson     339

135                                          Charlie Beljan             337

140                                          Ryo Ishikawa              321

 

A glance at the field:

  • The highest-ranked player in the FedExCup standings is Scott Piercy (No. 42).
  • Three former major championship winners: Trevor Immelman, Shaun Micheel, David Toms.
  • The highest-ranked player in the Official World Golf Rankings is Emiliano Grillo at No. 98. Grillo lost in a five-person playoff earlier this season on TOUR at the Puerto Rico Open.

 

  • A total of 62 players in the field have won 149 PGA TOUR events. One player in the field has won on TOUR this season (Alex Cejka/Puerto Rico Open).
  • Players with ties to the State of Alabama include: Blayne Barber (Auburn), Josh Broadaway (Troy State), Glen Day (born in Mobile, Alabama), Patton Kizzire (Auburn), Steve Lowery (Alabama), Ben Schlottman (Auburn), Robby Shelton (Alabama), Heath Slocum (South Alabama), Zack Sucher (UAB), Michael Thompson (Alabama), Brett Wetterich (Wallace State Community College) and Will Wilcox (UAB).
  • Two players who competed at the 1990 PGA Championship in Birmingham are in the field including: Billy Mayfair (T5) and Robert Gamez (T49). Arnold Palmer missed the cut at the 1990 PGA Championship. His grandson Sam Saunders will compete in the 2015 Barbasol Championship.

Player Notes

  • Steve Flesch won the 1997 Web.com Tour Championship (at that time Nike Tour) at RTJ’s Grand National course using an Opelika fire fighter with great course knowledge as his caddie. Flesh won by four shots over Chris Smith who is also in the Barbasol Championship field.
  • Two-time heart transplant recipient Erik Compton, who is currently No. 119 in the FedExCup standings, amassed three top 10s in 2014, including T2 at the U.S. Open. Compton has struggled this season with one top 10 in 23 starts on TOUR. Compton played college golf at the University of Georgia.
  • LSU graduate David Toms is looking for his first top 10 on TOUR since a T9 at the Sanderson Farms Championship earlier this season. Toms has only missed the FedExCup Playoffs two of the previous eight seasons (2008 and 2013). He is currently No. 146 in the FedExCup.
  • Boo Weekley lives in Florida but spends his downtime hunting and fishing.

    Boo Weekley lives in Florida but spends his downtime hunting and fishing.

    Former Auburn golfer and PGA TOUR rookie Blayne Barber enters the Barbasol Championship at No. 132 in the FedExCup standings (Top 125 get into the FedExCup Playoffs).

  • Michael Thompson is in the last year of his exemption from winning the 2013 Honda Classic. He is currently outside of the top 125 in the FedExCup standings. Thompson attended Tulane University two seasons until the school disbanded its golf team after Hurricane Katrina. He transferred to the University of Alabama and was the 2008 SEC Player of the Year.
  • Nicholas Thompson enters the Barbasol Championship with only one top 10 (T9/OHL Classic at Mayakoba) this season, but is inside the top 125 in the FedExCup standings. Nicholas’ sister Lexi won the 2011 Navistar LPGA Classic at Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Capitol Hill in Prattville, Alabama to become the youngest winner in LPGA Tour history at 16 years, 7 months and 8 days old.
  • Milton, Florida native Boo Weekley is having a solid season on TOUR with five top 10s, including a T2 at the Sanderson Farms Championship and a third-place finish at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. Weekley spends time hunting in Alabama on his uncle’s land.
  • Lefty Scott Langley enters the week on the bubble for the FedExCup Playoffs at No. 126 ( top 125 get into the Playoffs).

Barbasol Championship Exemption Notes

  • Richy Werenski, winner of the Golf Channel’s reality TV competition program “The Big Break,” earned an exemption through the show. Werenski is a Web.com Tour member and has never made a start on the PGA TOUR.
  • An exemption was also given to the Division I Jack Nicklaus Player of the Year Award, Maverick McNealy. The Stanford golfer is currently the No. 2 amateur in the world. He will make his third career start on the PGA TOUR (T60/2015 The Greenbrier Classic and MC/2014 U.S. Open).
  • Former Auburn golfer Patton Kizzire is currently No. 1 on the Web.com Tour money list. He will be looking for his second made cut in his fourth career start on the PGA TOUR (T54/2014 McGladrey Classic).
  • Entering his sophomore season at Auburn, Ben Schlottman will make his first career start on TOUR. He was the SEC Freshman of the Year and earned 2015 All-SEC first-team (first freshman in Auburn history to be named All-SEC first-team).
  • Entering his junior season at Alabama, Robby Shelton will make his second career start in a PGA TOUR event. He missed the cut last season at the U.S. Open.

Tournament Sponsor

Barbasol has a long-standing connection with golf that dates back to the 1920s and 30s, when advertising campaigns featured product endorsements from celebrated PGA TOUR golfers Johnny Farrell and Craig Wood. Today, Barbasol is proud to sponsor the 2015 Barbasol Championship and has wide-reaching involvement across several levels of the sport. The brand sponsors talented professional golfers among the PGA TOUR, Web.com Tour and Champions Tour, and supports collegiate golf by presenting the Jack Nicklaus Player of the Year Award. Barbasol-sponsored professional golfers in 2015 include Ryan Armour, Chad Campbell, Ben Curtis, Chris DiMarco, Kyle Reifers, Brian Stuard, Robert Streb, Bronson Burgoon, Joel Dahmen, Martin Piller, Russ Cochran, Neal Lancaster, and Loren Roberts.

Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail
In the late 1980s, two very important things were on the mind of Dr. David Bronner, CEO of the Retirement Systems of Alabama. First, how to effectively diversify the assets of the state’s pension fund; and secondly, how to help the state of Alabama. His philosophy was this: “The stronger the Retirement Systems of Alabama can make Alabama, the stronger the Retirement Systems will be.” With that in mind, and borrowing a page from the movie script, “Field of Dreams,” Bronner decided to “build-it-and-they-will-come” — not to a baseball diamond in a corn field, but to a dazzling collection of public golf courses in the great state of Alabama.

Bronner’s idea was to use a hot (but clean-burning) vehicle like golf to boost tourism, attract retirees, and spur economic growth within the state. His vision was on a grand scale — big, really big. “I don’t do windows and I don’t do just 18s.” You see, Dr. Bronner wasn’t looking to build just an 18-hole public golf course, he wanted to build spectacular sites throughout the entire state, and all at one time! The Trail now has 26 courses at 11 different sites and offers 468 holes of great golf.

Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Grand National
Grand National, by all reports, was the single greatest site for a golf complex Robert Trent Jones, Sr. had ever seen. Built on 600-acre Lake Saugahatchee, 32 of the 54 holes drape along its filigreed shores. Both the Links course and the Lake course were in the top 10 of Golf Digest’s list of “America’s Top 50 Affordable Courses” and all three courses at Grand National are listed among the nation’s 40 Super Value courses by Golf Digest’s “Places to Play”. With 12 holes hugging the shore of Lake Saugahatchee, the Lake course is one of the most scenic courses you can find. The quartet of par 3s is as good as any in the nation.

2014-15 PGA TOUR Season Highlights
So far in the 2015 calendar year, 15 of the 28 tournaments have been won by players in the top 25 in the Official World Golf Ranking at the time of their respective victories: Patrick Reed (23), Jimmy Walker (17th at Sony Open in Hawaii, 13th at Valero Texas Open), Jason Day (8), Dustin Johnson (16), Jordan Spieth (10th at the Valspar Championship, 4th at the Masters, 2nd at U.S. Open and 2nd at John Deere Classic), J.B. Holmes (20), Jim Furyk (10), Justin Rose (8), Rickie Fowler (13) and Rory McIlroy (1st at the WGC-Cadillac Match Play and 1st at the Wells Fargo Championship).

On TOUR this season, 15 of the 35 stroke-play events have been determined by a playoff, most recently at last week’s John Deere Classic (Jordan Spieth).

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OPELIKA, Ala. — If you can’t make it to the PGA Tour Barbasol Championship this week at the Grand National course on the RTJ Golf Trail, you can still catch the action thanks to Golf Channel.

Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 9.34.33 PMHere is the scoop on airtimes and other tournament info:

Barbasol Championship
Dates: July 16-19
Venue: RTJ Golf Trail at Grand National (Lake Course), Auburn/Opelika, Ala.

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         4-7 p.m. (Live) / 1-3 a.m. (Friday replay)
Friday              4-7 p.m. (Live) / 3-5 a.m. (Saturday replay)
Saturday          4-7 p.m. (Live) / 3-5 a.m. (Sunday replay)
Sunday            4-7 p.m. (Live) / 3-5 a.m. (Monday replay) 

Broadcast Notes:
New event: This is the inaugural playing of the Barbasol Championship, and marks the first time that a PGA TOUR event is being played in Alabama since the 1990 PGA Championship at Shoal Creek near Birmingham. The Lake Course at Grand National is a familiar venue to several of golf’s biggest stages, having previously hosted the Web.com Tour Championship in 1997, the LPGA Tour’s Tournament of Champions in 1998, and the 2000 NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championship and 2004 NCAA Divison I Women’s Championship.

Werenski in the field on sponsor’s exemption: Web.com Tour member Richy Werenski is in the field this week, competing on an exemption he earned for winning Golf Channel’s Big Break The Palm Beaches, FL competition series earlier this year.

Headlining the field: Charles Howell III, Erik Compton, Boo Weekley, Maverick McNeerly (a), Aaron Baddeley, Derek Ernst, Ken Duke, Derek Fathauer and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano.

Golf Channel Broadcast Team:
Play by Play: Brian Hammons
Analyst: Curt Byrum
Tower: Craig Perks
On-Course: Phil Blackmar / Billy Ray Brown

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