FINDLEY LAKE, N.Y. - Adam Long took last week off, an unusual move for him in the heart of the Web.com Tour season.
But it was a working vacation, and, by all appearances, a fruitful one.
Long, a 29-year-old Louisianian who now lives in St. Louis, is, like many Web.com pros, in search of something to push him forward after four years on golf's No. 2 tour.
He's played well enough to retain his status, but he's never
See Golf, C2
finished any higher than 46th on the Web.com money list. He arrived at Peek'n Peak this week 51st in season earnings and in search of his first tournament victory in his 76th career start.
But after spending last week at home with his fiancee and tinkering with his swing in consultation with his coach, Long might be onto something.
Playing Thursday morning, Long fired a squeaky-clean 7-under 65, the best first-round score in relation to par of his Web.com career. He birdied two of the first three holes after starting on No. 10, made the turn at 4-under and ended his day by draining a 12-footer for birdie on the par-4 ninth.
"Probably the longest par putt I had was four feet," Long said. "It was a pretty relaxing round."
It wouldn't be a stretch to say Long's strong opening round came out of the blue. He missed cuts in three of his previous four starts and in the other he finished in a tie for 55th at the Air Capital Classic in Wichita three weekends ago.
"The last handful of events for me each round has been kind of a struggle," he said. "I've kind of been fighting through some swing stuff, one thing after another. Nothing's been really clicking."
After a strong start here, though, he finds himself tied for second with 35-year-old Texan Michael Arnaud, a Monday qualifier playing in his first Web.com event of the year. Long and Arnaud are one shot behind Xinjun Zhang, who came in 15th on the money list.
Zhang, a 30-year-old native of Shanxi, China, who turned pro in 2010, played late and well, making eight birdies during a low-stress, bogey-free 64.
"The first two or three holes we were still a little bit tight," Zhang said through his caddie and interpreter, Yuan. "We had some good opportunities early on and didn't capitalize on them. But after those first few holes the swing really came around and we started making some putts."
Aaron Wise, a winner in Wichita, opened with a 66, including eagles at Nos. 8 and 18. The 21-year-old Wise, a native of South Africa who studied pre-law at Oregon, is sixth on the money list and has a chance to make a move with the top four sitting out this week.
"I knew a lot of people were taking it off, I didn't know all of them did," said Wise, part of a four-way tie at 6-under along with Jason Gore, Anders Albertson and Albin Choi. "That's a big opportunity."
Notes: Gore, who played here in 2005 during the same summer he was in the final group at the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2, nearly holed out from the fairway on No. 9 for an eagle that would have given him a share of second place. ... Players said Thursday's conditions were ideal, although that could change with the possibility of severe thunderstorms in the forecast today. ... Several local athletes worked as caddies, including Fairview graduate Andy Niland (Albertson) and McDowell graduate Teddy Russell (Timothy Madigan).
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