While the Children's Miracle Network Classic at the Magnolia Golf Club in Lake Buena Vista, FL is the final tournament of the season on the PGA Tour, there's more on the line than a strong finish to the season for many of those involved.
Just ask Charlie Wi, who sank back-to-back birdies on the final two holes to finish the opening round atop the leaderboard with an eight-under 64. It's his third time holding the lead after the opening round of a tournament this season, but he needs to carry this momentum through the rest of the weekend.
Wi, who entered the tournament 45th on the money list, could vault into the Top 30—and earn an invitation to next year's Masters—with a tournament win, something he's well aware of (h/t ESPN):
"Top 30 is definitely a goal. I'm not just showing up to play. You've got to have goals. I at least want to give myself a chance."
Speaking of the Masters, Tommy Gainey, who shot a seven-under par 65 and is tied for second place, could win this tournament and still not have enough winnings on the season to qualify for the 2013 Masters:
If Tommy Gainey wins this week, he still wouldn't crack top 30 on @pgatour $ list (which earns Masters invite), in spite of 2 victories.— Sean Martin (@GolfweekSMartin) November 8, 2012
Gainey is tied with Camilo Villegas, a three-time PGA Tour winner who failed to qualify for a major in 2012 and who is playing for his tour card, having dropped to 150th on the money list.
Were he to fall any lower, he'd have to play in the second round of next week's qualifying tournament to keep conditional tour status.
Other notable first-round finishers include U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Davis Love III, Justin Leonard and Scott Verplank, who all shot an opening round 73, finishing one over par and tied with multiple golfers for 83rd in the tournament.
Children's Miracle Network Classic 2012 Leaderboard Through Round 1
You can see the full leaderboard here.
Second round action kicks off Friday morning and can be seen on the Golf Channel starting at 10 a.m. ET.