Kenny Hess hoping for breakthrough at Open
PARKERSBURG — Kenny Hess knows what it feels like to be in contention for a West Virginia Open championship.
Starting on hole No. 1 at 1:20 p.m. today, the former Parkersburg South High School standout will tee it up with hopes of putting together three solid rounds at the 86th W.Va. Open being held at Parkersburg Country Club.
In 2013, which marked the fifth time the Open was at PCC and first since 1983, Hess finished in a tie for fifth behind current three-time defending champ and 10-time Open winner David Bradshaw.
On Tuesday evening, Bradshaw bested Jonathan Clark to win the Coca-Cola Shootout, but no victor of that event has hoisted the Open trophy in the same week before.
“I got to play one of the biggest events, strongest fields, I’ve played in a couple weeks ago in Cincinnati,” noted Hess, who was tied for the first round lead in 2014 at the W.Va. Open.
“There were 40 of the players who shared Mackenzie Tour status or Latino Tour status. I finished tied for sixth and the mindset I used I had never used before.
“I was kind of like who cares. Hit one shot at a time. There’s no leaderboard. Go find the golf ball. Hit one shot at a time and go find the golf ball. Be patient. I’ve gone into the Open too many times thinking I’m going to win it instead of going to hit the first tee ball. That’s all that matters is the first tee ball on Wednesday.”
While Hess was a member of the Patriots’ Class AAA 2005 state championship team, former teammate Ben Palmer won medalist honors in 2006 and helped PSHS secure back-to-back state crowns. Palmer, who will tee off at 9:30 a.m. on No. 10, actually tied for 9th at the Open with Hess in 2015.
“I’m just going to go play golf and not worry,” Hess added. “Go hit one shot at a time. I’ve played this course so many times. A few days ago I shot 2-over on the front and 5-under on the back to break par. (Another round) I shot 3-under on the front with a double (bogey).
“There are a lot of birdies out there. I know how to make it, but you have to do it when it means something. I’m extremely pumped and I have to stay patient because I could make a lot of birdies.”
Hess has been in the field every year since 2006 and any golfer who finishes in the top 40 this week receives an automatic invite for the 2020 Open.
“Knowing the course is huge,” Hess admitted. “But being your own golf course and having played it the last five years there’s a lot of pressure of wanting to perform.”
“Like Jason Day missed the cut, and the Memorial, it’s his home golf course. You have high expectations of yourself, but you see the same shot over and over.
“It’s finding that mental edge, even though you hit the shot 300 times. You have to make sure you are in that mental frame. It’s a brand new shot and you have to grind it out.”
Without question, Hess fully understands he’ll need to be on top of his game if he hopes to win it all this week.
“He (Bradshaw) is someone who mentally excels in this golf tournament,” Hess continued. “He’s one of the best players I’ve ever played with and I’ve seen a lot of good players.
“He’s phenomenal and a very, very talented player. This would be a year I’d like to be with him in the final group and put some pressure on him knowing the golf course, but we’ve got a lot of golf to play.”
Rain already has been heavy at times early this week and the forecast calls for more wet precipitation throughout the tournament.
No matter the playing conditions, Hess is going in confident.
“Every par 5 but 13, depending on the wind, is reachable,” he said. “If it’s down wind you can get home on 13, but from the back tees it’s 600 yards. The other par 5s, if you hit the fairway you can get home in two. Depending on the par 4s, I’m going to hit a lot of hybrids and 3-woods to hit the fairway. Course management is going to be as important as hitting it 320.
“If you hit it 320 and are buried in the rough and I’m at 270 in the center of the fairway, I’ll take my advantage all day. The bomber who hits it straight has a huge advantage, but a bomber who hits it crooked is going to be losing golf shots.”
Pairings and tee times for Wednesday’s opening round of the 86th West
Virginia Open Golf Championship at Parkersburg Country Club, par 70
7:50 a.m. (1) – James Carney, Patrick Johnson, Dylan Mumaw
7:50 a.m. (10) – Winston Canada, Michael Gervais, Tim Mount
8 a.m. (1) – Ryan Bilby, Wyatt Burgess, Matt Saab
8 a.m. (10) – Jess Ferrell, Brian McPherson, Ben Ramsey
8:10 a.m. (1) – Adam Sholes, Josh Arbaugh, Philip Reale
8:10 a.m. (10) – Scott Davis, Barry Evans, Nick Fleming
8:20 a.m. (1) – Matt Pellillo, Cole Moore, Mitch Hoffman
8:20 a.m. (10) – Mitch Roush, Isaac Prine, Zach Redmon
8:30 a.m. (1) – Walker Dent, Jacob Nickell, Jason King
8:30 a.m. (10) – Sean Gibbs, Chris Kroeger, Terry Mumaw
8:40 a.m. (1) – Will Evans, Jason Robinson, Cam Roam
8:40 a.m. (10) – Buck Gower, David Scragg, John Ridenour
8:50 a.m. (1) – David Bradshaw, Mason Williams, Ty Roush
8:50 a.m. (10) – Michael Foust, Jim Grimmett, Josef Dransfeld
9 a.m. (1) – Alan Cooke, Craig Berner, Sam O’Dell
9 a.m. (10) – Maxwell Sear, Mason Kidwell, Marco Oliverio
9:10 a.m. (1) – John Ross, Harold Payne, Davey Jude
9:10 a..m. (10) – Christopher Neighbors, James Snavely, Andrew Skeens
9:20 a.m. (1) – Todd Duncan, Ian Patrick, Connor Jones
9:20 a.m. (10) – John Logan Taylor, Jeff McGraw, JP Cochran
9:30 a.m. (1) – Adam Chesnut, Matthew Grobe, Jamie Hamilton
9:30 a.m. (10) – Tyler Hillyer, Ben Palmer, Owen Elliott
12:20 p.m. (1) – Alex Easthom, Thomas Frazier, Jeremy Vallet
12:20 p.m. (10) – Zach Chapman, Caleb Lee, Drew Green
12:30 p.m. (1) – Chris Daniels, Chuck Henderson, Pete Kurelac
12:30 p.m. (10) – Matthew Barrish, Brian Bailey, Landon Perry
12:40 p.m. (1) – Chad Baldwin, Chris Barlament, Patrick Smith
12:40 p.m. (10) – Jason Grimmett, David Jude, Carson Proffitt
12:50 p.m. (1) – Thadd Obecny II, Chris Breed, Brian Anania
12:50 p.m. (10) – Kyle Bird, Steven Nutter, Noah Mullens
1 p.m. (1) – Bryan Myers, Samuel Berry, Scott Davidson
1 p.m. (10) – Drew Call, Joseph Ranieri, Mason Weese
1:10 p.m. (1) – Christian Boyd, Tad Tomblin, Chris Williams
1:10 p.m. (10) – Isaiah Zaccheo, Howie Peterson, Joseph Kalaskey
1:20 p.m. (1) – Aaron Gizzi, Kenneth Hess, Matt Felber
1:20 p.m. (10) – Jason McClanahan, Van Stemple, Sam Stark
1:30 p.m. (1) – Scott Bibbee, Brandon Steele, Steve Ross
1:30 p.m. (10) – Charlie Monk, David Woodrum, Seth Miller
1:40 p.m. (1) – Phil Butcher, Ryan Dean, Steve Superick
1:40 p.m. (10) – Ayden Wyckoff, Chase Wolfe, Chase Wheeler
1:50 p.m. (1) – Robert Vanni, Jackson Hill, Tyler Hartzell
1:50 p.m. (10) – Craig Pancake, Tyler Patterson, Jared Waters
2 p.m. (1) – Tyler Adkins, Adam Yeager, Christian Casingal
2 p.m. (10) – Matthew Crouch, Lucas Diserio, Alex Schreckengost
Coca-Cola Shootout Results
at Parkersburg Country Club
1st: David Bradshaw; 2nd: Jonathan Clark; 3rd: Thadd Obecny; 4th: Sam O’Dell (a); 5th: Davey Jude; 6th: Christian Boyd (a); 7th: Will Evans; 8th: Phillip Reale (a); 9th: Mason Williams (a); 10th: Scott Davidson; 11th: Drew Green