Three golfers with Utah ties competed in the Charles Schwab Challenge Thursday at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas, in what is the return of the PGA Tour after a three-month layoff.
Salt Lake native Tony Finau led the way with a 2-under-par 68 that puts him in a tie for 39th place after the first round, while Orem’s Zac Blair shot a 1-over-par 71 and sits in a tie for 94th place. Former BYU golfer Keith Clearwater, who recently moved to California after living in Orem for many years, could only manage a 6-over-par 76.
Finau was 1 over on the day after making bogey on the 12th hole, but his putter got hot as he birdied three of the last four holes, with an 18-foot putt on No. 15, a 17-footer on No. 16 and a 28-footer on No. 18.
Blair had a consistent round with pars on 12 of his first 13 holes and a birdie on No. 6, but he made back-to-back bogeys on 14 and 15.
The 60-year-old Clearwater is competing in the tournament for the 34th time thanks to a lifetime exemption he earned for the event by winning the 1987 Colonial National Invitational. Although he hasn’t made the cut since 2001, Clearwater felt confident going into this year’s tourney after just missing the cut last year when he went 71-74 in the first two rounds, and because he has been practicing almost every day since moving to Temecula, California, 18 months ago.
However he’ll probably need a 64, the same score he shot in the final two rounds when he won in 1987, to make the cut this year. The cut is expected to be around even-par 140, which means Blair will need to shoot in the 60s Friday.
Clearwater’s only birdie of the day came at No. 2, his 11th hole, when he rolled in a 30-foot putt. That got him back to 3 over for the day, but he made bogeys at holes 4, 5 and 8 coming in for his 76.
He’s not the oldest player in the tournament. Three golfers are older, including Bernhard Langer, who shot 70, Tom Lehman, who is among the leaders at 65 and David Frost, who shot a 77.