Steward is trying to make up for lost time

Greensboro, NC – Brian Steward hasn’t earned a FedExCup point since May 1 when he tied for 42nd at the Mexico Open in Vedante. Not a single point.

Not for lack of trying, though. Steward has played in 11 events since leaving Mexico and has missed scoring every time. Hence the sense of urgency this week at the Wyndham Championship.

Stuard, who has played in 33 events this year, entered the FedExCup Regular Season Final at number 137. But he opened with a score of 65 at Sedgefield Country Club on Thursday to tie for fifth and is now expected to number 124.

“I don’t have much to lose,” Steward said. “I’m not in a really good place so I’m just trying to figure out how to play some good golf again and see what happens.”

Thursday was off to a good start. The six-bird and lone ghost round was the low round of the Stuard season, and only in the second round in the ’60s did he shoot him through 11 laps that are pointless to forget.

“I’ve been fighting it a little bit, just trying to find a swing,” Steward said. “Today I did really well. I was able to control my mistakes better than I was, I guess. I just wish I knew what the difference really was, but yeah, I hope it lasts.”

Stuard started out front on Thursday 9 and did 31 spins that included 4th, 9th, 6th birdies (after an eagle effort from 46ft) and 13ft. He made 3 feet on the 13th hole, hit three on the second and closed his scoring with 2 feet for a birdie at No. 15.

It’s definitely tough,” Steward said when asked how he maintains confidence. “Then you have sort of a day to start with, like today you started really well and you’re getting momentum, so it doesn’t take much to turn the tide. I hope this run is everything and I can continue.”

A year ago, Alex Smalley played in the Wyndham Championship by exempting a sponsor – his last chance to earn enough FedExCup points to reach the Korn Ferry Tour Finals where he eventually earned his PGA TOUR ticket.

On Thursday, Smalley rotated it on his court at home as a TOUR member and fired 65 goals that left him in a nine-way tie for fifth, with just four strokes off the lead held by Jun Huh. Unlike last year, his job for the 2022-23 season is already secure and he is expected to finish 57th in the FedExCup Cup.

Not bad on a day he didn’t quite think he had the best of him – only hitting 8 of 14 passes and 11 of 18 greens. Smalley defended well, ended up finishing second in Strokes Gained: Around the Green and tied for fifth in Strokes Gained: Putting.

Did he meet or exceed his expectations?

“I would say I met them,” Smalley said. “I wasn’t very happy with the way I hit the driver today. Turn 3 didn’t play great, on the back of a nine in particular. … I made a lot of really good hits today, so many six to 10 feet that I felt like I’ve been that way all season. It was good to see those fall.”

Bubble playoffs watch

These are the players who were expected to be in and out of the top 125 at the end of the first round on Thursday at Sedgefield Country Club.

I expected in

Michael Gljic (No. 132, drop number 116) Gligic played No. 65 with his low run at Sedgefield, which was fired in the first round of last year’s event, and included 31 points in the back nine.

Brian Stuard (No. 137, No. 124) Stuard, who hit 5 underground in the first round on Thursday, fired a pair of 65 seconds at Wyndham last year en route to a tie for 15th.

I expected

Ricky Fowler (No. 123, Project No. 127) Fowler had a tough start and a tough finish — he made a double bogey on number 1 and a bogey on number 17 and 18 — on his way to 71.

Matt Wallace (No. 124, Project No. 128) Wallace, who missed his Wyndham Championship debut last year, also shot the 71 with three birdies, two ghosts and a double ghost.

Notes: John Huh played in the first set from the first starting point, went out at 29 and scored a career low that gave him a two-stroke lead and boosted him 72 places in the FedExCup to 39th. “I didn’t,” Huh said, “I felt really good in my game and repaid my career at a level Low, it’s kind of weird.” “Sort of a mixed feeling, but I would take this any day. I was able to take advantage of a good break and good shots, that is all I can say today.” …Aaron Wise has played only once since the past five weeks, and that was in the Open Championship where he tied for 34th. “That’s why I came here, to get rid of some rust in the playoffs, and if I find myself in competition, that’s even better,” he said. Wise, as he tries to make the TOUR Championship for the first time since his Rising Star of the Year season in 2018. He’s on track, advancing eight places in the FedExCup predictions to No. 26. …Austin Smutrman, who came as bubble boy in 125, he made a big move in a positive direction with a ghost-65 on Thursday that left him tied for fifth and prospective 106th. Smotherman, who hit 16 of the 18 greens on the list, said he’s happy to finally start golfing. “Sure, yes, thrill, get ready for round one. You care about your business,” he said. … Speaking of business, there are three players who stand a chance of moving into the Comcast Business TOUR Top 10 players entering the Wyndham Championship – Will Zalatoris, Sungjae Im and Billy Horschel Of the three, only me moved in. He’s the only one in second at 7 under and is expected to go from 15th to 8th.

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