Dublin, OH — Hudson Swafford had his first experience last year and after a promising 3-under par start through two rounds at the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide, was derailed by a 79. It was a hiccup which occurred on a windy, Ohio day and led to a tie for 63rd place.
Fast forward a year later, and Swafford posted a 6-under par 66 to open play this year. This figure put him in solo second place after the morning wave of golfers completed their rounds.
“I really like this golf course, it is a great ball striking golf course,” Swafford said. “I feel like my speed’s really good on the greens. I can kind of be conservative in certain situations coming out of the first cut rough. I feel like I can play offense with my putter.”
Swafford is on his third full year on the PGA TOUR and has three career top-10’s, the most recent of which came Jan. 9 at the Sony Open in Hawaii. He is the 247th ranked player in the Official World Golf Rankings and 102 in the FedEx Cup points race.
Despite those numbers, he has been quite pleased with how the last month has gone even though his best finish during that time was the AT&T Byron Nelson.
“I’ve actually been playing great golf for the last month, and really the last six rounds, I didn’t really make any putts,” said Swafford. “I really started playing good at Byron Nelson, 8 under the first two days. Didn’t make a putt on the weekend. Just kind of burnt a lot of edges, a lot of lip outs, so kind of got lapped there.”
Swafford went out in 7-under 29 keyed by red numbers on the last five holes of the front side. The highlight of that was an eagle on the par-5 seventh hole.
“I’m not going to lie,” said Swafford. “I kind of shoved a 5 wood, just kind of going for the middle of the green on 7 after I had two birdies, and I just pushed it a touch. But I hit it a really well 5 wood and ended up seven feet behind the hole putting uphill and made it.”
While Swafford called his front-nine offense, he admitted that was not the case with his back-nine as the third-year pro shot a 1-over par 37 coming back in.
The tide turned for Swafford on the par-5 11th hole when he recorded a bogey.
Swafford admitted that 11 does not suit his eye and he got aggressive hitting the ball to the tree outline. He could only hit his second shot 47 yards and he ended up missing a 10-foot putt for par.
“The back nine, it can be penal if you’re playing defense with your putts,” Swafford said. “You’ve got to hit it in certain sections and just missed a few sections, but I hit a bunch of great golf shots in the back.”
Ultimately, Swafford believes he is in good position to make a run the rest of the week.
“I feel comfortable,” he said. “The golf course is in unbelievable shape. So just looking forward to the next three days after a good start.”