Jeff Gove and Chad Campbell both finished strong to separate themselves from the pack Thursday in first-round play of the Turning Stone Resort Championship.
Gove and Campbell finished at 7-under-par 65 to take a one-stroke lead at Atunyote Golf Club in Verona, N.Y. The duo leads Steve Flesch, John Sensen, Mathew Goggin and Brendon de Jonge by one shot in the first event of the PGA Tour's Fall Series.
Gove had the most spectacular finish, holing out from 100 yards with a sand wedge for eagle on the par-5, 617-yard 18th hole. His season-low round of 65 allowed him to finish the first round atop the leaderboard for the first time in his PGA Tour career.
"I think it's the first shot I've made from the fairway all year," Gove said about his eagle on No. 18 at a post-round press conference. "I'm pumped. I'm sad to see the day end. I was having fun hitting golf shots and had a good feel for the greens today.
"[I] was just definitely enjoying the walk."
Gove opened his round with three consecutive birdies and birdied four of his first five holes and five of his first eight before taking a bogey on the par-4 ninth. He birdied holes 11 and 12, bogeyed No. 13 and then played even before the eagle at 18.
Entering the week ranked second on the PGA Tour in greens in regulation (70.13 percent), Gove hit 16 of 18 greens in regulation Thursday. The fourth-year tour player is shooting for his fifth career top-10 finish and his first since tying for sixth at the John Deere Classic.
"I've done a lot of good work the last few weeks, and the greens are probably the best we've putted in months, so I'm excited to be putting these greens," Gove said. "If you hit good putts, they've definitely got a good chance of going in."
Campbell enjoyed similar success on the greens, needing just 25 putts in his round.
"I rolled the ball really well today," Campbell told reporters. "You know, I've been working hard and this year really, I haven't felt like I've hit the ball very well.
"I hadn't done anything very well, so it's nice to get a nice round under my belt, and see some of the hard work paying off ... [I] felt like I've been playing well, but my scores haven't been showing it over the last month."
Campbell came into the event ranked 85th on the PGA Tour money list and is in danger of not finishing in the top-25 for the first time since 2002. While he advanced to the semifinals of the World Golf Championship-Accenture Match Play Championship, Campbell hasn't recorded a top-10 finish in a stroke-play event this season.
"I felt like I played solid today -- drove the ball pretty well (and) hit the majority of the fairways," he said. "I was able to hit it close on the front nine and make a few putts on the back nine.
"I was definitely happy with the birdie on 18 -- good way to end the day."
September 21, 2007
Davis Love III, who played the final 57 holes of the Children's Miracle Network Classic without a bogey, finished at 25-under 263 in the season-ending event played at the Walt Disney World Golf Resort in Florida. It has been a long road back for Love, who severely sprained his ankle late last year. After tearing ligaments, he needed surgery, and he's spent much of this year rehabilitating the injury.
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