Oswego native David Branshaw played error free golf on day one of the final Nationwide Tour event of the year, an event that will determine whether he’ll be able to move back up to the full PGA Tour next year.
Branshaw shot a -1 round of 70 at TPC Craig Ranch in McKinney, Texas. He birdied the 330 yard 14th hole and made clean pars on the other 17 holes, one of 7 players to avoid a bogey. He finished the day 6 strokes back of the leader, tied for 24th place. His 70 was the day’s overall scoring average.
Branshaw is 27th on the Nationwide Tour’s money list this year. The top 25 money winners get their PGA cards for the full year next year; those finishing 26th to 60th win full year exemptions on the Nationwide Tour for next year. The Nationwide Tour is similar to the top minor league of pro golf.
He’s earned $194,120 this year. He’s about $5,000 behind the man on the 25th place bubble, Chris Tidland. Branshaw spent a week right on the bubble, but fell below the line after finishing 45th in Chattanooga in mid-October.
After the first round, three of the four players above him on the money list are either ahead of him or tied. The fourth is one stroke back. Only one player higher than 23rd on the money list shot a low-ranking round, finishing the first day two shots behind Branshaw.
Midsummer was a good time for Branshaw this year. In the space of a month, he finished 6th, 3rd and 2nd in three tournaments. He missed the cut in a fourth. Branshaw has missed three cuts this year and was disqualified from a fourth tournament. He has one other top-25 finish in 21 tournaments this year. A first place finish in any tournament would have given him his PGA card for next year.
Branshaw has bounced between the Nationwide Tour and the PGA in recent years. He made 11 out of 30 cuts on the PGA Tour in 2004, earned nearly $300,000 and had to go back to the Nationwide Tour. He finished 7th on the Nationwide Tour in 2005 and got his PGA card back. He enjoyed his best year as a pro in 2006, making 20 of 29 cuts, finishing twice in the top 10 and earning a little more than $700,000. But the next year, Branshaw made just 10 of 30 cuts and lost his PGA card again, finishing in 211th place.