Davidson, NC – Nick O'Hern carded a 5-under 67 on Thursday to grab a share of the lead after the first round of the Chiquita Classic.
O'Hern was joined atop the leaderboard by Hudson Swafford, Ben Kohles and Edward Loar, who already has his PGA Tour card for next season thanks to his fourth-place finish on the Web.com Tour money list.
D.J. Brigman, Peter Tomasulo, Matt Davidson and Troy Merritt are tied for fifth place at minus-4 at River Run Country Club.
Michael Putnam, who topped the regular season Web.com Tour money list, and Bronson La'Cassie, who finished sixth on the money list, share ninth place at 3-under 69. They stand alongside Tim Petrovic, Jeff Klauk, Will MacKenzie and Brett Stegmaier.
This is the second event of the Web.com Tour finals. The top 25 from the regular season tour money list already have their PGA Tour cards for next season, but are still playing for priority ranking. The next available 25 from the finals series money list will also earn their PGA Tour cards for next season.
Last week's winner Trevor Immelman carded a 1-over 73, which left him tied for 77th.
O'Hern looked like he was going to run away from the field in the early part of his round. He parred the 10th, his first, then birdied five of the next six holes.
The Australian stumbled to a bogey on No. 17, but bounced back by holing a long eagle putt on the 18th to make the turn at 6-under. After four straight pars to start the front nine, O'Hern traded a bogey for a birdie from the fifth. He faltered to another bogey on No. 9 to drop into a share of the lead.
"It's nice to play a golf course where you have to be in the fairway," said O'Hern. "The greens are very similar and the way the holes are shaped, it's right up my alley."
Swafford was the only one of the four co-leaders to start on No. 1 and the only one with a bogey-free round. He birdied the par-5 second, then eagled the next par-5, No. 6, to move to 3-under.
Last year's Stadion Classic at UGA winner birdied the ninth to make the turn at minus-4. Swafford parred the first seven of the back nine. He birdied the 17th to gain a share of the lead, then parred the last.
"I've been getting caught up in worrying about what others are doing around me. When I commit to my game plan I play a lot better," said Swafford. "I've been close the last few weeks. The way this is set up, you have a new chance each week."
Kohles, who won his first two tour starts last year, birdied the 10th and 11th to get his round going. He wrapped birdies at 16 and 18 around a bogey on 17. Around the turn, Kohles birdied the third and sixth to gain a share of the lead.
Loar had three birdies on his opening nine. He tripped to a bogey at No. 1, but came right back with a birdie on the second. Loar traded a birdie at the fourth for a bogey on the fifth. He birdied the sixth and ninth to move into a tie atop the leaderboard.
NOTES: Arron Oberholser withdrew prior to his the round, while Patrick Cantlay, last week's runner-up, withdrew earlier in the week ... Swafford, who birdied just one of four par-3s on Thursday, leads the Web.com Tour in par-3 scoring average.