Adam Long shoots 66 after tweaking neck at Barbasol Championship

Adam Long shoots 66 after tweaking neck at Barbasol Championship
Adam Long shoots 66 after tweaking neck at Barbasol Championship

Adam Long is a picture of resiliency.

The Duke alum spent nearly a decade between mini-tours and the Korn Ferry Tour before earning his first TOUR card at age 30. He has made four straight FedExCup Playoffs appearances since, and despite entering this week’s Barbasol Championship at No. 150 on the standings, he has little intention of surrendering that streak.

So he wasn’t about to let a neck ailment keep him from an opening 6-under 66 at Keene Trace GC, just three back of early leader Lucas Glover.

Long turned in 5-under 31 despite a lingering knot in his neck that he first felt Wednesday morning – “Just kind of slept on it weird maybe; you know how you sleep on your neck weird,” he said.

Long, 35, felt the pain build early in the back nine, to the point where he called a trainer on No. 13. The trainer came out, did some work and applied tape. Long strung pars until No. 17, where he fell victim to a flared approach into a greenside water hazard, en route to a double-bogey 6. He lost his tee shot right on the par-4 18th, but the ball held up in the rough, narrowly shy of a water hazard. “It’s really hard to turn through it,” Long said, “so I was just kind of hanging on.”

He wedged to 26 feet and drained the lengthy birdie to polish off his 66.

Just four weeks remain in the FedExCup Regular Season – the top 70 after the Wyndham Championship in early August will earn Playoffs berths – and Long holds 178 FedExCup points, currently 363 points outside the top 70 (the Barbasol winner will receive 300 points).

The wily veteran knows he’s entering whatever-it-takes territory.

“I took some Ibuprofen, just tried to loosen it up and get in there, but it was really painful just at impact,” Long said after his round. “So part of that, just knowing that it was going to hurt, but it was tough to play through. It was pretty severe on 10, 11, 12, and then 13, I was like, ‘I’ve got to call somebody. This is really bad.’

“For some reason, both days, yesterday and today, it tended to get worse throughout the day, rather than you’d think it would – especially with it being warm out, I was hoping it would kind of loosen up if anything, but if anything it seemed to get worse.”

It has been a rough season for Long, winner of The 2019 American Express, who entered the week having yet to record a top-15 finish in 28 starts.

He knows that a swift uptick will be required to earn a Playoffs berth, or if he doesn’t qualify, to finish inside the top 125 after the FedExCup Fall to maintain strong status and avoid a trip to Q-School.

A strong start in the Bluegrass State – despite an inconvenient tweak – bodes well toward that goal. He planned to head to the training room post-round, as well, to remain spry into Friday’s second round.

“It’s one of those weeks you need to make a lot of birdies,” he said, “so it’s nice to get off to a hot start.”