Harry Hall takes 22 putts in career-best 62 for Colonial header
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Harry Hall no longer has reason to be disappointed with his recent bet. The PGA Tour of England rookie made just 22 putts, the last an 8-foot birdie for an 8-under 62 that gave him a four-stroke lead at the Charles Schwab Challenge.
Hall’s first time at Colonial was a dream start — eight birdies with par saves of 15 feet and 30 feet.
Tom Hoge, who played his college golf at TCU and now makes Fort Worth his home, drilled for the eagle from the seventh fairway en route to a 66.
Scottie Scheffler, who returned to world No. 1 with his tie for second at the PGA Championship, and defending champion Sam Burns were in the big group at 67 among early starters. Burn beat Scheffler in the playoffs last year with a 45-foot putt.
Jordan Spieth only birdied on the eighth hole and opened with a 72.
Michael Block, the California club pro who played at Oak Hill last week when he hit a hole-in-one and two big par putts over the final four holes to finish 15th in the PGA Championship, played in the afternoon.
Block signed with management company WME Sports and made the rounds in the media. He opened his inning with three consecutive bogeys.
Hall played his college golf at UNLV and is No. 99 in the FedEx Cup, a reasonable rookie season that includes a pair of top 10s in Puerto Rico and the Mexican Open.
He changed up his routine this week by playing 36 practice holes at Colonial – a pro-am Monday then nine holes Tuesday and Wednesday. It helps, with his putter.
“That might be the key, just to see a little more of the course than I’ve done in the past,” Hall said. “I didn’t make too much of a difference. I kind of made things a little simpler.
He kept it simple early on, putting two birdie putts on the opening par-5 hole and then birdie putting from 10 feet. That’s not to say it’s always been easy. Hall made a 15-foot par on the next hole, then went back and forth twice to save the pars.
He missed seven greens and played those holes at 1 under, the biggest chip-in for a birdie from around 80 feet on the 12th hole that put him at 7 under with six holes to play. He only birdied once the rest of the way, but his longest putt he made was 30 feet for the par 15.
“I was really in the moment and determined to play good golf,” Hall said. “The 7 of 7 scramble doesn’t really surprise me because it’s the best part of my game, but the way I hit the ball the first two-thirds of that round was pretty special.”
Hoge, who grew up in North Dakota, is so passionate about his horned frogs that he flew from Maui to Los Angeles to watch TCU during the College Football Champions Game (a blowout loss to Georgia) , then returned to Hawaii for the Sony Open. .
He had a good start until his round stopped. He came to life on the No.6 when his approach settled inches from the cut. And then on the seventh, he hit the 8 iron 157 yards straight into the cut for an eagle.
It’s just the start he needed after missing the cut at Colonial the last three times.
“For the past few years, I’ve really struggled on Thursday, then fought back on Friday to try and make the cut,” Hoge said. “It was definitely a priority this year to try to get a good start, to try to be a little bit more patient and let the run come to me. Getting some birdies from the start was really nice.
Scheffler wasn’t sure what to make of his game. He felt it could have been better than his 67, and there were times when he felt it was drifting away from him. In the end, he figured anything below par never hurt Colonial.
An example of how it could have eluded him came in the fifth. With the wind at his back, Scheffler thought the driver was too strong and so he opted to hit a fade with a 3 wood. It turned into more of a slice and was headed for danger. It rattled among the trees.
“The next thing I know, I saw the ball bounce, and I actually had a shot from the middle of the fairway,” he said. “Massive break there. I ended up being able to take advantage of it and make a birdie. It was definitely a swing or two, I would say, throughout the round.
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