Seamus Power admitted he perhaps rode his luck a little bit in his opening round at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, but that should take nothing away from an incredible finish that has him one shot off the lead after day one in California.
Playing Spyglass Hill in his first round, the West Waterford man produced a superb run to conclude his round, birdieing his final four holes to card an eight-under 64 that leaves him just a solitary stroke behind overnight leader Tom Hoge, who opened with a nine-under 63 at Pebble Beach.
Power was bogey-free on Thursday and had been on for a good round as it was, starting at the 10th and picking up birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th, before birdieing the first to start his back nine in the perfect fashion, leaving him at four-under.
Four straight pars suggested his momentum might have run out but, just when it looked like he was stuck in a rut, the 34-year-old holed out from the greenside bunker on the sixth and that set him up to add birdies on seven, eight and nine for a 64.
It’s the perfect way to start for Power, who is 50th in the world and could do with one more big result to secure his place in the Masters in April, and his round looks even better when you consider that the next best score recorded at Spyglass on Thursday was four shots worse at four-under.
“Six was a steal,” laughed Power.
“That kind of set me up for the last three. Hit some good tee shots, hit the fairways on eight and nine, which are huge, and left myself good numbers. It was one of those days I kind of left myself like the right numbers into holes and just kind of made it easier to get it closer.
“No bogey, which is always nice. I chipped and putted very well. I hit a couple of poor shots early and got away with them and it kind of set me up for a great round.
“I stayed out of the water on 14 or 15 where some other days I might not have and I was able to get them up and in, and it kind of got me going and kept me in it and set up the good finish.”
It was also a good round for Power for more than just the golf as he got the chance to play with a fellow Irishman, teeing it up alongside John Murphy in his PGA Tour debut, with the Barbasol champion admitting he had a great time between the shots.
“It was such an enjoyable round. Like John, it was very cool, John’s very first PGA TOUR event, that was cool. And then (with) our partners, we had a great time,” added Power.
“And then we had a bunch of Irish people following us, it really was fun. Just kind of talking about stories and stuff from back home also makes you just feel a little more at ease.”
Unfortunately Murphy couldn’t match his fellow countryman’s form on his PGA debut, carding two birdies but also three bogeys and a double at Spyglass to finish the day with a three-over 75 that leaves him in a share of 131st after the first round.
He made the turn in level-par after a bogey at 14 was cancelled out by a birdie at the 17th, but a tough run on the even holes on the front nine saw him bogey the second and fourth and then double the sixth, but a birdie on the par-five seventh recovered a shot.
Now, with the first round nerves out of the way, the Cork man will hope he will be able to thrive when the pair tee off at Pebble Beach in their second round at 4:41pm Irish time on Friday.
Unsurprisingly, leader Hoge was in a great mood after his bogey-free nine-under 63 at Pebble Beach, which saw him start with back-to-back birdies and then add a string of six birdies in a row on his back nine to put him one ahead of Power after the opening day.
“It’s hard to be in a bad mood out here. I mean, Pebble Beach and perfect weather is about as good as it gets, so it was a lot of fun,” beamed the 32-year-old, who is chasing his first PGA Tour win.
“I feel like I’ve been playing well. I’ve been excited to get out here on the golf course and feel like Pebble Beach is a golf course that suits me well, so I was excited to get out here this week.”
Jonas Blixt was the best scorer at Monterey Peninsula, with a seven-under 64 leaving him tied for third with Austin Smotherman, who carded a 65 at Pebble Beach.
- Full scoring HERE