Merritt sets blistering pace at Barbasol

EVAN DENNISON - [email protected]
Troy Merritt celebrates after sinking a putt on the ninth hole during the first round of the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship golf tournament at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Thursday. (Alex Slitz/Lexington Herald-Leader via AP) -

NICHOLASVILLE – My Old Kentucky Home.

The home of horse racing, college basketball and bourbon.

Golf wants in too.

The PGA Tour’s Barbasol Championship teed off Thursday at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville in what Lexington and the surrounding area hopes to be an annual deal. The last PGA Tour event was in Louisville for the PGA Championship in 2015 at Valhalla, the last regular tournament was nearly 60 years ago with the Kentucky Derby Open in 1959. The Barbasol is contracted for at least four years as it looks to make its mark as a mainstay on the Tour, hopeful to be one of 49 annual sites on a yearly basis.

“This is a cool course. I think Lexington is a great town. I’ve never been. It’s really cool. It’s cool to see the equestrian estates and the horse farms. We don’t really have anything like these out in Idaho, we have a lot of cows,” Clubhouse leader after the first day Troy Merritt said.

Merritt caught fire on the back nine of his round. After firing a four-under 32 on the front nine, the Boise State alum and Iowa native went for eagle on the Par 5, No. 6 and followed that up with two more birdies on No. 7 and 8 to get to 10-under, just missing another birdie putt on No. 9 to get to 11-under.

“I’ve shot a couple 61’s on Tour, both were 10-under par. I just missed it left, slightly misread it, but 62 is 62,” Merritt said.

Merritt looks to continue his strong play into Friday as he seeks his second career PGA Tour victory.

“You might have to get upward towards 20-under to have a chance to win this thing and I was fortunate to make a lot of birdies and just not make any mistakes,” Merritt said.

Low numbers were to be had in the afternoon as 29 players posted a score of at least 3-under par. That accounts for 29 of the top 41 spots on the day.

Andre Romero posted the lowest number early in the day, firing a seven-under 65, to be the clubhouse leader for the majority of Thursday until Merritt carded his 62. Romero is in a three-way tie for second with Billy Horschel and Joel Dahmen.

Horschel is one of the more notable names in the tournament, winner of the Tour Championship and FedEx Cup in 2014.

Other notable scores include Hunter Mahan at six-under and Davis Love III sitting at four-under. Mahan has six career PGA Tour tournament victories while Love III has 21 and is a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame.

The event itself on the first day has to be looked at as a success, considering its been given the rookie treatment as the top players in the World are currently across the pond playing at The Open in Carnoustie, Scotland.

But this week, promoters of the event are hopeful the event is here to stay. They’ve done a nice job keeping intrigue, having an LPGA player in Brittany Lincicome play in the event, the first LPGA player to play in a PGA event in over a decade. Lincicome entered with hopes of making the cut, but a first round 78 at six-over par has put that in danger.

“Overall I did what I wanted to do with having fun, I think I nailed that part pretty well,” Lincicome said. “Just two bad tee shots on par 3’s and didn’t hit as many putts as I would have liked. I drove it well which was one of my goals which I thought would make my day a little easier.”

Lincicome’s crowd was the biggest on the day from the gallery, scattered in swarms across the course, depending on the grouping.

“It took me probably three or four holes to settle down. Even the first tee shot I was really nervous about wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Sam (Ryder) and Conrad (Shindler) made me really feel at home and asked me questions about where home was and the LPGA. That made me feel a lot more comfortable quickly,” Lincicome said. “I’ll still be nervous tomorrow I’m sure, being inside the ropes with the guys is such a cool feeling, such a different feeling.”

Ryder enjoyed the round with Lincicome and thought she performed well under pressure considering the circumstances.

“She is a very impressive player. Her record speaks for itself. She’s won 10 times on the LPGA Tour. Watching her hit some of the shots she hit, spinning some of those wedges back, she’s a very solid player,” Ryder said. “I think she had a little bit of nerves early. It was fun, she’s the sweetest person in the World, so we had a good time today.”

Ryder finished with a four-under 68 in a tie for 28th place. Shindler finished at even-par as the three will join up again on Friday.

“I love literally talking to anybody. It relaxes me out there so I’ll be doing that a little bit more with them tomorrow,” Lincicome said, who’s gallery included a lot of young aspiring female golfers. ” Anytime I can influence a child, especially a girl, I want to get them involved with the LPGA as much as possible. Whether it be in high school or in college, future, you can play golf until you’re 100, it’s a wonderful game.”

Lincicome followed up her round signing autographs and taking pictures with fans.

Thursday made for a beautiful day weather-wise, as temperatures sat in the mid 80’s, with not much humidity to worry about. Things don’t look as good on Friday though, as heavy rain is expected. Officials were proactive with the possible inclement weather, moving rounds up an hour and 20 minutes with the first group of the day teeing off at 7 a.m.

Play will continue on into the weekend through Sunday for the 72-hole tournament.

PGA – Barbasol Championship Par Scores

Thursday

At Keene Trace Golf Club

Nicholasville, Ky.

Purse: $3.5 million

Yardage: 7,328; Par 72

First Round

Troy Merritt 30-32—62 -10

Andres Romero 31-34—65 -7

Billy Horschel 34-31—65 -7

Joel Dahmen 32-33—65 -7

Shawn Stefani 32-34—66 -6

Tyler Duncan 33-33—66 -6

Jonathan Byrd 32-34—66 -6

Hunter Mahan 33-33—66 -6

Martin Piller 33-33—66 -6

Richy Werenski 33-33—66 -6

Tom Lovelady 34-32—66 -6

Matt Atkins 33-33—66 -6

Cameron Percy 35-32—67 -5

Brian Gay 34-33—67 -5

David Lingmerth 33-34—67 -5

John Peterson 32-35—67 -5

Ricky Barnes 34-33—67 -5

Sebastián Muñoz 33-34—67 -5

Lanto Griffin 35-32—67 -5

Nicholas Lindheim 33-34—67 -5

Ben Silverman 34-33—67 -5

Robert Streb 33-34—67 -5

Michael Thompson 32-35—67 -5

Nick Taylor 34-33—67 -5

D.J. Trahan 33-34—67 -5

Jonathan Randolph 35-32—67 -5

John VanDerLaan 34-33—67 -5

Jason Bohn 35-33—68 -4

Charlie Wi 35-33—68 -4

Mackenzie Hughes 36-32—68 -4

Brian Stuard 36-32—68 -4

Brendon de Jonge 33-35—68 -4

Aaron Baddeley 34-34—68 -4

Kyle Thompson 34-34—68 -4

Sam Ryder 33-35—68 -4

Scott Brown 36-32—68 -4

Davis Love III 34-34—68 -4

William McGirt 34-34—68 -4

Steve Wheatcroft 35-33—68 -4

Josh Teater 34-34—68 -4

Danny Lee 33-36—69 -3

Zac Blair 35-34—69 -3

Johnson Wagner 33-36—69 -3

Tim Wilkinson 34-35—69 -3

J.T. Poston 36-33—69 -3

D.A. Points 32-37—69 -3

Peter Malnati 35-34—69 -3

Wesley Bryan 35-34—69 -3

J.J. Henry 33-36—69 -3

Duffy Waldorf 34-35—69 -3

Adam Schenk 33-36—69 -3

Michael Bradley 34-35—69 -3

John Rollins 34-35—69 -3

Parker McLachlin 38-31—69 -3

Neal Lancaster 34-35—69 -3

John Oda 35-34—69 -3

Will Cannon 35-34—69 -3

Roberto Díaz 37-32—69 -3

Jay Don Blake 35-35—70 -2

Charlie Beljan 35-35—70 -2

Harris English 37-33—70 -2

Shaun Micheel 36-34—70 -2

Robert Garrigus 35-35—70 -2

Derek Fathauer 36-34—70 -2

Ethan Tracy 36-34—70 -2

Dru Love 34-36—70 -2

Cameron Beckman 34-36—70 -2

Cooper Musselman 34-36—70 -2

Seamus Power 36-34—70 -2

John Merrick 35-35—70 -2

Fabián Gómez 35-35—70 -2

Matt Every 35-35—70 -2

Marc Turnesa 33-37—70 -2

Olin Browne 34-36—70 -2

Frank Adams III 32-38—70 -2

Xinjun Zhang 36-34—70 -2

Stephan Jaeger 35-35—70 -2

Ryan Wenzler 36-34—70 -2

Blayne Barber 35-36—71 -1

Whee Kim 35-36—71 -1

Chris Wilson 34-37—71 -1

Brian Davis 36-35—71 -1

Brendon Todd 35-36—71 -1

Billy Hurley III 35-36—71 -1

James Hahn 35-36—71 -1

Cody Gribble 39-32—71 -1

Chris Kirk 35-36—71 -1

Tim Herron 37-34—71 -1

Tyson Alexander 36-35—71 -1

Heath Slocum 36-35—71 -1

Rob Oppenheim 36-35—71 -1

Tyrone Van Aswegen 36-36—72 E

Daniel Summerhays 36-36—72 E

George McNeill 35-37—72 E

Peter Lonard 37-35—72 E

Kevin Foley 37-35—72 E

Conrad Shindler 36-36—72 E

Dicky Pride 36-36—72 E

Cameron Tringale 35-37—72 E

Greg Kraft 36-36—72 E

Grover Justice 38-34—72 E

Martin Flores 38-35—73 +1

Corey Conners 36-37—73 +1

Tommy Gainey 37-36—73 +1

Spencer Levin 37-36—73 +1

Stuart Appleby 35-38—73 +1

Chris Smith 38-35—73 +1

Andrew Yun 38-35—73 +1

Skip Kendall 36-37—73 +1

Robert Allenby 35-38—73 +1

Chip McDaniel 37-37—74 +2

Ken Duke 36-38—74 +2

Chad Campbell 37-37—74 +2

John Huston 38-36—74 +2

Dudley Hart 37-37—74 +2

Domenico Geminiani 34-40—74 +2

Ted Purdy 38-37—75 +3

David Hearn 40-35—75 +3

Daniel Chopra 37-38—75 +3

Brett Wetterich 40-35—75 +3

Mark Wilson 40-35—75 +3

Guy Boros 38-37—75 +3

Arjun Atwal 36-40—76 +4

Jonathan Kaye 39-37—76 +4

Len Mattiace 37-39—76 +4

Carl Pettersson 40-37—77 +5

Chris Couch 42-35—77 +5

Omar Uresti 35-42—77 +5

Frank Lickliter II 42-36—78 +6

Brittany Lincicome 38-40—78 +6

Steven Bowditch 43-35—78 +6

Zecheng Dou 40-39—79 +7

Troy Merritt celebrates after sinking a putt on the ninth hole during the first round of the PGA Tour’s Barbasol Championship golf tournament at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Thursday. (Alex Slitz/Lexington Herald-Leader via AP)
https://maysville-online.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/web1_Barbasol2.jpgTroy Merritt celebrates after sinking a putt on the ninth hole during the first round of the PGA Tour’s Barbasol Championship golf tournament at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Thursday. (Alex Slitz/Lexington Herald-Leader via AP)
Lincicome becomes first female to play on PGA Tour in nearly a decade

EVAN DENNISON

[email protected]