Pádraig Harrington and Darren Clarke trail Miguel Angel Jimenez by five shots after the opening round of the TimberTech Championship at Royal Palm Yacht & Country Club in Florida.
This is the second of three Schwab Cup playoff events and Harrington entered the week second in the season-long standings, behind Steven Alker.
The three-time winner this season wasn’t firing on all cylinders on a course that he admits doesn’t suit his eye.
The 51-year-old birdied his opening hole before dropped shots on the second and fourth were followed by twelve successive pars and a birdie on the seventeenth as he signed for a level-par 72.
“It’s a lovely golf course. Doesn’t suit me, but it’s a lovely course.
“Yeah, it’s tight. You know what, I don’t mind the holes that take driver out, I’m quite happy hitting my fairway woods, but the holes that I’m hitting driver on, you know, out of bounds left and right, it’s tough to free up.”
Senior Open champion Clarke had a more eventful level-par 72 carding two bogeys, a double-bogey and four birdies to lie in 23rd place.
Jimenez fired a five-under 67 to lead Rod Sampling and Paul Goydos by the minimum.
The Spaniard was only one-under after 14 holes but closed with four consecutive birdies to edge his nose in front.
Jimenez, 58, has three wins in 2022 and sits fifth in the Schwab Cup standings. Schwab Cup leader Alker, the defending Timbertech champion, shot a 2-under 70 and is in a group of 10 players who are tied for seventh.
Pampling, 53, a native of Australia, birdied four of the last five holes to get in at 68. He chipped in for birdie on the par-3 17th and two-putted for birdie on the par-5 18th.
Pampling was pleased with how he handled the conditions with the wind getting up at times.
“You know, when it’s back into the breeze, you’re just trying to take a little bit of extra club and just smooth it in there,” Pampling said. “Thankfully, it’s not a super-long golf course, but you still have to be exacting with your shots. Yeah, it’s just controlling ball flight, that’s one of the key factors.”
Pampling has one top five this season, a tie for third at the Regions Tradition in May. Pampling had four finishes of 50th or worse in five events before the Schwab Cup playoffs began, but he shot three rounds in the 60s at the Dominion Energy Charity Classic and tied for eighth.
Goydos, 58, had four birdies on the back nine on Friday. Like Pampling, he also has one top five this season, also at a major — a tie for fourth at the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship.
“The reason the scoring is a little high, and I’m assuming it’s a little high, is because of the wind,” Goydos said. “It’s pretty windy out there.
“It’s funny, this golf course … every par 4 doglegs against the wind. All the dogleg rights have hook wind and all the dogleg lefts have cut winds, which is more difficult, which makes it a little bit harder.”
Scott McCarron, Tom Pernice Jr. and Robert Karlsson each shot 3 under and are tied for fourth.