Andrew Novak cuts through the wind to post incredible score in first round of Emerald Coast Classic

Published: Apr. 1, 2021 at 9:43 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) -The wind howled all around the Raven Golf Club during round one of the Emerald Coast Classic Thursday. Many of the players didn’t seem to mind all that much.

Andrew Novak, originally out of Raleigh, North Carolina, but who now plays out of Sea Island, Georgia, owns the 18 hole lead in the Inaugural ECC, showing he truly is a good “wind player”.

Novak, teeing off in the early afternoon, when 30 mile an hour gusts had calmed down a bit, but with the wind still kicking, posted a round of 8 under 62 Thursday. He fired a two under 33 on the front side, with four birdies and two bogeys.

He then birdied holes 10 and 11, hitting one long putt after another. Then on 14, he drilled a birdie putt of nearly 45 feet, getting him to five under for the round. After trying to drive the green on the reachable par-4 15th, he found himself in a greenside bunker. He blasted out of that to within two feet, and hit that putt for birdie to get to 6 under. A par on 16 followed, and after reaching the par-5 17th in two shots, he curled in another long putt for eagle. A par on the 18th brought Novak home with a stunning score, given the windy conditions, of 8 under 62!

“I just got in a groove out there.” Andrew said following his round. “Every putt went in, it was crazy. I think our wave, the afternoon wave definitely was kind of catching the good end here. It was really windy this morning. We kind of dodged that. It was still pretty windy but it wasn’t the 30 mile an hour gusts that we were seeing earlier. And also I play out of Sea Island, I’m kind of used to playing the wind. It’s kind of what I do.”

Three other players, all teeing off in the second half of the round, came in with scores of 4 under 66. Those three are Hayden Buckley, Austin Smotherman and Josh Hart. So they start Friday four shots off the pace.

8 more players, led by Stephan Jaeger out of Chattanooga, who was among those playing in the early morning in the harshest of the wind, came in with a 3 under 67. 31 players total somehow managed to post a score under par.

Round two starts at 6:50 Friday morning, with the tee times being flipped.

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