After caddie gets COVID-19, Ryan Palmer turns to former high school teammate

SAN DIEGO – Ryan Palmer is a familiar face atop a Torrey Pines leaderboard and he got off to a predictably solid start with an opening 66 on the more difficult South Course on Thursday, placing him tied for fourth at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Not everything was familiar, however.

Palmer’s longtime caddie, James Edmondson, tested positive for COVID-19 and wasn’t able to make the trip to San Diego. Palmer has Judd Burkett on the bag this week. Burkett normally caddies for Chad Campbell and played high school golf with Palmer.

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“[Burkett] gave me the right yardage obviously and gave me his thoughts on what kind of shot needed to be hit. Some things I probably would have done differently, but he told me this is what he thought and I agreed and it was the right decision,” Palmer said. “He knows my game really well from all the times we’ve played together. Obviously it’s different not having James there; we’ve been there for 18 years now, but it was a solid day.”

Palmer lost a playoff to Jason Day at the 2018 Farmers Insurance Open and was tied for third after two rounds in 2019 before finishing tied for 13th.

“I drove it well, missed three fairways total, and then I’m able to use my iron play, which has been one of my strongest points of my game,” Palmer said. “When I drive it well [on the South Course], it sets up these holes for me a lot. I love the tee shots, the lines I’ve got and it’s shown these last few years.”

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