Spencer Levin is making leading after the first round a habit this season. Just two months into the season and Levin has already had his name at the top of the leaderboard, after day one, on three occasions. But Thursday at Bay Hill was definitely the most impressive.
On a day when Arnie's playground blew away most of the competition with winds gusts over 20 miles per hour, Levin found a way to fire a bogey-free 6-under 66 to take a three-shot lead over the field after one round.
Normally a three-shot lead after one round is nothing to get excited about ... until you look at the stats. Levin's 66 was 8.74 strokes better than the field on a day when 13 players shot rounds of 80 of higher, making his score look more like a 59 or 60.
It's even more incredible when you consider Levin is playing in his 10th event in a row this year, currently making him the PGA Tour's version of Cal Ripken Jr. Levin is a throwback golfer; he enjoys chain smoking on the course and playing as many tournaments as he possibly can -- two things today's professional tends to shy away from.
While Levin is enjoying a great start to his 2011 season, there was a time about 6 or 7 years ago when people weren't sure Levin would ever live up to his amateur hype. Known more for his temper tantrums on the course and his affinity for dropping f-bombs and chucking clubs, his on the course antics almost made you forget he was, at one time, one of the top amateurs in the country.
But like most college-age kids, Levin grew up along the way, gaining a new perspective and appreciation for his life on tour. He went from not giving a damn to fighting for his tour card.
As Levin has matured, so too has his golf game. He currently has four top 15 finishes in his last five events, including a playoff loss at Mayakoba a couple weeks ago. Humility and patience will only get you so far in golf, but if there's one guy that seems due for a good week -- and possibly a win -- it's Levin.
He's been grinding it out each week, getting closer and closer to his first tour win. He's only one round into Arnie's event, but if his start is any indication of what we can expect for the rest of the week, we may just see him chain smoking his way to victory.
- Spencer Levin