DANIELS, W.Va. — Cicadas swarmed, the weather stormed and by the end of it all, a crowded leaderboard had formed after the first round of the 87th West Virginia Open held on a soggy Cobb Course at the Resort at Glade Springs.
Three lengthy rain delays that lasted a combined 2 hours and 20 minutes plagued the afternoon wave of players that included most of the tournament’s biggest names.
Parkersburg pro Kenny Hess didn’t have to worry about any of that however, finishing up his morning round at 3-under-par 69. That was good enough to give him a two-stroke lead over a five-way tie at 1-under 71 heading into Wednesday’s second round.
“Tee-to-green was really good, I was never out of play or in a spot where I had to grind,” Hess said. “I was in play all day long, hit a lot of fairways and a lot of greens. Just never put a lot of pressure on myself and birdied the holes I was supposed to birdie.”
David Bradshaw, the 11-time West Virginia Open champion from Bakerton and the winner of the last four in a row, had a much different opening round.
Early in his round, it seemed like business as usual as Bradshaw stepped onto the eighth tee box at 2 under, just one off the lead at the time. But from there, bogeys at Nos. 8, 12, 14, 16 and a double bogey at 17 was far too much for an up-and-down birdie at the 18th to overcome.
In the end it was a 3-over 75 for Bradshaw, who estimated that it was probably the worst round he’s played in a State Open since 2005.
“I can’t remember playing this bad in a long time,” Bradshaw said. “I didn’t swing good today, I didn’t putt well today, I didn’t chip good today — I didn’t do anything good.”
While Bradshaw certainly has the ability to go low and shoot himself right back into the thick of things, there are 17 players between him and the Hess top of the leaderboard, including 12 at even par or better.
Huntington’s Pat Carter, the 13-time West Virginia Amateur champion who won the State Senior Open earlier this month, carded a 71 despite a bogey on the par-5 18th. Despite the sour ending, Carter was quite pleased with day one.
“I was playing pretty spotless before the rain hit,” Carter said. “But all in all, heck, I’m pretty happy with the position. I’ve got a good chance to get out in the morning (Wednesday) and post another good score and hopefully be in a good position the last day.”
Tied with Carter for second place at 1-over 71 were Thad Obecny (Wheeling), Nick Fleming (Cabins), Samuel Berry (Morgantown) and Sam O’Dell (Hurricane).
O’Dell broke a string of disappointing opening rounds in West Virginia Opens on Tuesday and played better than even he expected. A three-putt double bogey on the 14th hole after tying for the lead at 3-under stung, but he parred out from there to secure a good position entering the second round.
“I’m happy, I’d have taken that in a second,” O’Dell said. “I did a couple of stupid things but I hit it much better than I have the last couple of days. I was trying to shoot 70 or lower so 71, I’ll take it. You’re still in it.”
Six players are in a group at even-par 72: Christian Brand (Scott Depot), Davey Jude (Kermit), Cole Moore (Spencer), Mason Williams (Bridgeport), Noah Mullens (Milton) and Owen Elliott (Hedgesville).
Brand, a former Capital High School and Marshall University standout, three-putted the 18th for a bogey to settle with an even-par 72.
The two-time State Open winner is making his first appearance since 2016 after giving it a go on the professional tour. He has decided to pursue insurance sales this year and figured to be one of the biggest threats to Bradshaw coming into the event.
As disappointed as Brand was with Tuesday’s round, he’s still right in the thick of things as no one was able to get much going, especially in the rain-disrupted afternoon wave.
“I played so bad today, I was just out of sorts throughout the whole day,” Brand said. “I can’t believe nobody went lower. I’m happy they didn’t, because I obviously didn’t. But yeah, we’re right in there, not too many people in front of me. We’ll just play good golf, stare at them and see what happens.”
Williams, the reigning West Virginia Amateur champion, finished at even and is in a six-way logjam for seventh place.