Hornet sting, birdies take Swafford to lead at Punta Cana

Hornet sting, birdies take Swafford to lead at Punta Cana

PUNTA CANA, Dominican Republic — A hornet sting early and a bunch of birdies late carried Hudson Swafford to a 5-under 67 on Friday for a two-shot lead going into the weekend of the Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship.

Joining him in the final group will be Sean O’Hair, who missed an entire year with a torn oblique and returned just in time for the COVID-19 pandemic to shut down golf.

Swafford played in the morning when it was humid along the Caribbean Sea but without much wind. He started on the back nine and it was largely uneventful, except for that hornet that stung him on the joint of his pinky finger while he reached for his putter after playing one hole.

“It started swelling up, so I was just kind of rubbing ice on it after tee shots for the first five, six holes on the back side,” Swafford said. “I guess it kind of cleared my mind of the golf thing and just let me focus on something else.”

Swafford has a good feel for the greens this week, so his objective was to give himself enough chances. After a pair of birdies on the back nine, and then a few mistakes when the wind arrived, Swafford ran off three birdies at the end of his round and set the target at 12-under 132.

“My caddie got stung yesterday on the forearm on the first hole, and I guess he said it’s kind of a good omen,” Swafford said. “We played well, and we ended up playing well again today.”

Two shots behind were O’Hair (67), former Southern Cal star Justin Suh (67) and Luke List (65).

All have dealt with some form of injuries. Swafford is missed most of last summer with foot surgery. Suh had a wrist injury right when he turned pro that slowed his progress.

And then there was 38-year-old O’Hair, a four-time PGA Tour winner. He tore his oblique at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in February 2019, had surgery to repair and remove scar tissues, and he didn’t play another PGA Tour event until Pebble Beach this year. He played the Honda Classic. And then golf shut down.

“I’ve been out pretty much almost a year-and-a-half now,” said O’Hair, who missed the cut in the Safeway Open last week. “So it’s trying to get in a groove again, in the routine again. My body is still not quite there as far as the workload that you do from travelling and hitting balls and walking and practice. It’s kind of hard to practice that at home.

“I’ve tried to play as much as I can at home to get ready for this, and this is going to be my first three weeks in a row for a year-and-a-half, so that’s going to be a big task for me, for sure.”

Suh chipped in for birdie on the 17th, and then made an 18-foot par putt on the 18th when his approach rolled off the side of the green into a collection area.

Mackenzie Hughes of Canada had a 67 and was at 9-under 135 along with Adam Long, who ran off six straight birdies and was 8 under through 12 holes on his round until he made back-to-back bogeys. He had to settle for a 65, still not a bad way to celebrate his 33rd birthday.

The cut was at 3-under 141, and among those missing the weekend was Graham DeLaet. The Canadian opened with a 78 and was 14 shots better Friday. But his 64 left him one shot short of making the cut.

Defending champion Graeme McDowell shot 73 and missed the cut.

The tournament was a Korn Ferry Tour event three years ago. It graduated to an opposite-field event, and then was elevated to a full FedEx Cup event for this year when it was postponed until late September, and then the Ryder Cup this week was postponed until 2021.

That means the winner this week gets an invitation to the Masters next April, and the final two rounds will be broadcast on NBC Sports, which had set aside this time for the Ryder Cup.

The Associated Press

Golf

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney arrives for an announcement at a news conference in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Inquiry into oil and gas foes to deliver report next year: Kenney

CALGARY — An inquiry into who is funding environmental opposition to the… Continue reading

Whatever snow may possibly fall in Red Deer on the weekend will melt when it hits the warm ground, says meteorologist Kyle Fougere with Environment and Climate Change Canada. (File photo by ADVOCATE staff)
Weather expected to get warmer next week in Red Deer

It’s going to be a cold weekend, according to Environment Canada. Saturday… Continue reading

Retired city manager Craig Curtis will argue for keeping the Molly Banister Drive right-of-way at Tuesday's public hearing. He warns of future gridlock if the extension is removed by city council. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
Former Red Deer city manager warns killing the Molly Banister Drive extension is ‘a terrible mistake’

Craig Curtis will argue for keeping the road alignment at next week’s public hearing

Alberta has 3,651 active cases of COVID-19. (File photo)
432 new COVID cases sets another record Friday

Central zone holds steady at 126 active cases

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson, B.C. NDP leader John Horgan and B.C. Greens leader Sonia Furstenau. (Black Press Media)
VIDEO: One day until B.C. voters go to the polls in snap election defined by pandemic

NDP Leader John Horgan’s decision to call an election comes more than a year ahead of schedule and during a pandemic

Alice Kolisnyk, deputy director of the Red Deer Food Bank, says the agency expects an increase in demand as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Every new subscription to the Red Deer Advocate includes a $50 donation to the food bank. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Support the food bank with a subscription to the Red Deer Advocate

The community’s most vulnerable members are always in need of a hand,… Continue reading

Canada's Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada's top physician says she fears the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths may increase in the coming weeks as the second wave continues to drive the death toll toward 10,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Top doctor warns severe illness likely to rise, trailing spike in COVID-19 cases

Canada’s top physician painted a bleak picture Saturday of the toll the… Continue reading

Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020. Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole is naming his shadow cabinet, including his predecessor Andrew Scheer as the party's infrastructure critic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
O’Toole tells Alberta UCP AGM Liberals were “late and confused” on COVID response

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole says Alberta has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic… Continue reading

Indigenous fishermen carry lobster traps in Saulnierville, N.S. on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS /Andrew Vaughan
Federal representative hopes to ease tensions in Nova Scotia lobster dispute

HALIFAX — The man tasked with lowering the temperature in a heated… Continue reading

A voter places her absentee ballot in the ballot box, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020, at Merrill Auditorium in Portland, Maine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Robert F. Bukaty
American voters living in Canada increasingly being counted in presidential race

The largest number of Canadian-based American voters cast their ballots in New York and California

This photo provided by Air Force Reserve shows a sky view of Hurricane Epsilon taken by Air Force Reserve hurricane hunter team over the Atlantic Ocean taken Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020.   Epsilon’s maximum sustained winds have dropped slightly as it prepares to sideswipe Bermuda on a path over the Atlantic Ocean.  The National Hurricane Center says it should come close enough Thursday, Oct. 22, evening to merit a tropical storm warning for the island.  (Air Force Reserve via AP)
Hurricane Epsilon expected to remain offshore but will push waves at Atlantic Canada

Epsilon is not expected to have any real impact on land

A composite image of three photographs shows BC NDP Leader John Horgan, left, in Coquitlam, B.C., on Sept. 25, 2020; BC Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau, centre, in Victoria on Sept. 24, 2020; and BC Liberal Party Leader Andrew Wilkinson Pitt Meadows, B.C., on Sept. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck, Chad Hipolito
British Columbia votes in snap election called during COVID-19 pandemic

NDP Leader John Horgan called the snap election one year before the fixed voting date

Nunavut's provincial flag flies on a flag pole in Ottawa, on Tuesday June 30, 2020. The annual report from Nunavut's representative for children and youth says "complacency and a lack of accountability" in the territory's public service means basic information about young people needing services isn’t tracked. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Nunavut’s young people ‘should be expecting more’ from government services: advocate

‘The majority of information we requested is not tracked or was not provided by departments’

Most Read