BARRINGTON – Billy Andrade has spent most of his time playing the role of good host at the CVS Caremark Charity Classic. Come Tuesday morning, the Bristol native will look to make a surge that will enable him to capture the $1.55-million tournament he co-hosts with fellow Rhode Islander Brad Faxon.
Andrade and playing partner Bill Haas teamed up to fire an 11-under 60 Monday, a mark that left the duo tied for second along side popular PGA Tour stars Rickie Fowler and Bubba Watson. Both groups sit one shot behind the pace set by another notable tandem as Bo Van Pelt and Steve Stricker turned in a scorecard that featured a robust minus-12 59, a mark that equals the second-lowest, single-round at the CVS, now in its 15th year.
Andrade and Haas earned contending status after closing Monday’s round with five consecutive birdies. All of the birdies were credited to Hass, but it was Andrade’s four on the par-five, 538-yard No. 11 that helped kick start what proved to be a birdie fest at Rhode Island Country Club.
Andrade had a share of the lead after Day 1 of last year’s CVS Classic. He and Faxon ended up tied for fifth and five strokes behind winners Morgan Pressel and Jay Haas. Andrade and Bill Haas, who notched an eagle on the par-five, 516-yard 8th, will be part of the next-to-last group on Tuesday, the foursome also including Pressel and Jay Haas, who sit in fourth place following Monday’s nine-under 62.
“I’ve come close, but I haven’t finished it off,” said the 49-year-old Andrade, who was responsible for one of the three skins that netted $25,000 on Monday (the others belonged to Bill Haas and Michael Thompson). “Maybe (Tuesday) will be our lucky day.”
The final foursome that tees off at 9:40 Tuesday morning will not be lacking in star power. A good-sized gallery figures to follow around Watson-Fowler and Van Pelt-Stricker, which could prove a blessing in disguise to those groups getting out on the course ahead of them.
Ranked 11th in the latest World Golf Rankings, Stricker certainly enjoyed his first-ever jaunt around RICC. He birdied the first two holes before giving way to Van Pelt, who added a birdie on No. 8. Stricker, who has his 14-year-old daughter Bobbi Maria serve as his caddy, contributed four more birdies on the back nine, a side that proved favorable to those in the mix heading into the second and final day.
“We got to (minus-nine) and had three holes left and Steve said, ‘Let’s see if we can birdie two of these last three.’ He rolled in a nice putt on 16 and we wound up (birding) the last three,” said Van Pelt, who like Stricker is making his CVS tournament debut after playing in the Pro-Am event earlier in his career.
Added Stricker, “You can be aggressive when you have a partner like Bo.”
As for Fowler and Watson, the latter joked that he carried the day, which he did to a degree with five birdies, two of which materialized on the final two holes.
“For a Tour spot, this would be one of the easiest spots compared to some of the other tournament sites we see week-to-week,” said Watson when asked about Rhode Island Country Club. “There would be a lot of birdies, which was the case today.”
The first group tees off at 9 o’clock Tuesday morning.
Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03