Covello, Martin, Harmon share BMW Pro-Am lead

Published on Friday, June 7, 2019

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Brett Farve, former NFL quarterback, was a big draw playing at Thornblade Club Thursday.

Malcolm Vanhannegeyn Photo

Brett Farve, former NFL quarterback, was a big draw playing at Thornblade Club Thursday.


• First round scores 

• Friday's tee times

Vince Covello and Ben Martin both shot 8-under 63 at Thornblade Club, while Matt Harmon carded an 8-under 64 at The Cliffs Valley on Thursday to share the first round of the BMW Charity Pro-Am.

The field is playing each of the two courses over the first two days before competing at Thornblade Club Saturday and Saturday.

Martin, a Greenville resident, made his first Web.com Tour start since 2013, a year when he won twice on Tour to earn his PGA Tour card. He competed on the PGA Tour from 2014-2018 before a back injury sidelined him. This is his first rehab start since January’s Sony Open in Hawaii.

“I haven’t played competitively in a while, but I started to feel healthy the last three or four weeks and got to play a fair amount and got to shoot some good scores at home,” said Martin. He estimated he had played Thornblade Club more than 100 times. “I felt confident going in but you never know what to expect until you’re put under the gun.”

Martin, who carded four birdies on each nine, has his former Clemson teammate, Crawford Reeves, as his caddy. Reeves previously competed in the BMW Charity Pro-Am from 2014-2016.

“My full-time caddie, because I was out so long, started working for Lexi (Thompson) on the LPGA Tour,” said Martin. “Unfortunately, Crawford didn’t qualify for the U.S. Open on Monday, so he was available to caddie for me. He grew up here at Thornblade, so I trust him with the lines and his reads.”

Covello recorded four birdies in his first six holes. He sank a 75-foot birdie putt at the ninth for a front-nine 30. Birdies at Nos. 11, 13 and 15 were offset by bogeys at the 14th and 18th, and an eagle at the par-5 16th solidified his spot atop the leaderboard.

“I hit both par-5s in two on the front nine and then made a bomb on the ninth for birdie from the front of the green. That wasn’t expected,” said Covello. “On 16 I think I had about 212 yards to the flag. I hit it to about 10 feet or so, right behind the hole. That was the first putt I’ve made with any significance with the flagstick in. I’m not that guy that leaves it in, I usually take it out unless it is a really long putt but that worked out. I was thrilled.” Covello played the four par 5s in 5-under.

Matt Harmon carded the round of the day with a bogey-free 8-under 64 at Cliffs Valley. The co-lead marks the first round Harmon has led on the Web.com Tour in his 113th start.

“I got off to a good start by hitting some wedges close,” said Harmon. “I think starting out on the back nine was a little bit of an advantage because you can start off with some easy shots and get on a roll right away. I knocked a couple of putts in early and then it was off to the races.”

Harmon reflected on his own high school basketball days while playing with his amateur partner Eddie Payne, the former basketball coach at USC Upstate.   “I played in high school, but I wasn’t very good,” said Harmon. “I think we won maybe five or six games every year, so it wasn’t saying much. I was usually on the bench, running around trying to get some trash buckets after some rebounds or something like that.”

Second-round tee times Friday will run at both Thornblade Club and The Cliffs Valley in two waves from 7 a.m. to 1:49 p.m.

• After 36 holes, a cut is made to the top 65 professionals (and ties), the top 10 amateurs and the top six celebrities.

• Notable celebrities in the field include 11-time Pro Bowler Brett Favre, Larry the Cable Guy, Ivan Rodriguez, Ozzie Smith, Willie Robertson, Lucas Black, Patrick Peterson and Brian Baumgartner.

• Covello, with 717 points, would mathematically earn his PGA Tour card (based on Tour projections) with a three-way tie for fourth or better this week. The projection to finish in The 25 is at 830 points.

• Greenville resident Kyle Thompson (T124, +1) is playing in his last event as a professional. He will retire this event, 22 years after beginning his professional career at the 1997 BMW Charity Pro-Am.

• Andrew Novak, a Wofford College alum, opened with a 5-under 67 on The Cliffs Valley and is tied for 11th.

* Davis Riley (-2, T69) played with friend and fellow Hattiesburg, Mississippi, native Brett Favre. Riley is looking to earn special temporary membership through a 19th-place finish or better, passing the threshold of the No. 100 player on the money list from 2018. Despite having no status this year, Riley has Monday qualified into four events (earning medalist honors in three). He bogeyed his first three holes before rebounding to reach 2-under.

• This week’s purse is $700,000, with $126,000 going to the winner. The champion will also earn 500 points in the Web.com Tour points system. 

• The par-3 11th (207 yards) ranked as the toughest hole on Thursday at Thornblade Club with an average of 3.250. The par-3 No. 2 (178 yards) ranked as the toughest hole at The Cliffs Valley with an average of 3.125.  

• The par-5 second hole (575 yards) ranked as the easiest hole on Thursday at Thornblade Club with a

n average of 4.475. The par-5 ninth hole (578 yards) ranked as the easiest hole at The Cliffs Valley with an average of 4.423.





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