Ten-time champion sits atop leaderboard at West Virginia Open
VIENNA — History repeated itself once again as the 10-time West Virginia Open champion David Bradshaw ended day one as the leader for a second consecutive year.
Bradshaw carded a score of 7-under 66, but Josef Dransfeld, from Huntington, is only one shot behind him after round one of the 86th West Virginia Open Championship Wednesday afternoon at the Parkersburg Country Club in Vienna.
Only seven behind the all-time leader Sam Snead (17), winning this year’s event would give Bradshaw, a Harpers Ferry native, his fourth straight title. That would be Bradshaw’s longest winning streak at the event.
Entering the Open as the favorite and winning Tuesday’s Coca Cola shootout for the second time, Bradshaw continued to ride the momentum, finishing day one with eight birdies and an eagle on the 16th hole.
“I’ve been a frontrunner I think more in my career than catching from behind. It feels good. I don’t know what it is,” Bradshaw said, “But every time I come into this event, whether it’s the Monday or Tuesday before, I just kind of seem to find a golf swing that clicks. I don’t know why. I wish this happened at every golf tournament, but it doesn’t.”
Six out of the eight birdies Bradshaw walked away with happened on the country club’s par-5s.
“I drove the ball well. I put myself in good positions on the par-5s. On the six par-5s, I made six birdies,” Bradshaw said. “So that’s what this golf course is. You just hit it straight off the tee on the par-5s. Five of them are pretty reachable. One is not. I putted well, so I kind of had everything clicking today.”
Bradshaw only went under par once, finishing with a double bogey on the 8th hole due to his shot off the tee landing in the creek.
“I hit two bad tee shots all day,” he said. “One of them cost me two. But it happens. It’s golf. It’s part of the game.”
Dransfeld, a freshman golfing at Elon University in North Carolina, finished the first round only one back from the defending champion with a score of 6-under 67.
“I thought I played pretty well today. There wasn’t really part of my game that struggled today. I played with what I had,” Dransfeld said. “I noticed that I was missing it out to the right a little bit in the beginning. And I just adjusted from there and played with what I had, trusting every swing I had and played free.”
Starting on hole 10 at 8:50 a.m., Dransfeld was in the lead for the majority of the morning. He knocked in two eagles and picked up back-to-back birdies on holes 2 and 4, giving the Huntington native a total of three birdies on the day.
“Some of these birdies came to me, I didn’t push it. I made some good putts out there, had a lot of good chips.” Dransfeld said.
Like Bradshaw, Dransfeld struggled on the 8th hole, as a bad shot off the tee went into the creek. Dransfeld had to chop his ball out of the rough and was able to make a play out of it, setting up a six-foot putt for bogey, his only score under par.
“Same thing tomorrow, just tee it up and just try to go low and not worry about it. There’s nothing to worry about, it’s just a game you know,” Dransfeld said, “There’s a lot of bad things people could be doing instead of golfing, so you just got to go out there and have fun.”
Part of the first groups teeing off at 7:50 in the morning, Winston Canada from Dunbar entered the clubhouse as the Open’s leader, but was pushed down to third place by the end of the day with a score of 5-under 68. He eagled on the 18th hole and birdied on holes 2, 4, 9, 10 and 17, but bogeyed on back-to-back holes (14 and 15).
In fourth place is Morgantown’s Maxwell Sear (-5, 69) while Sissonville’s Craig Berner and Scott Depot’s Chris Williams are tied for fifth at 3-under 70.
Spencer’s Cole Moore finished seventh, capitalizing on a strong back nine. He hit three straight birdies on holes 15, 16 and 17.
Rounding out the top 10 is a four-way tie at the eighth spot with a score of 1-under between Vienna’s Adam Chesnut, Ravenswood and West Liberty University’s Alex Easthom, Michael Gervais from Bridgeport and Thaddeus Obecny II out of Wheeling.
Both Chesnut and Easthom finished day one with three birdies apiece, but the Mountain East Conference Freshman of the Year eagled on the 18th hole, placing Easthom in the top 10 when it was all said and done.
The second round continues today with a 7:50 a.m. tee time. Following the second round, cuts will be made to lower the field of 132 to 60 players, plus ties, to compete in the final round Friday morning.