Australia’s Matt Jones and George McNeill overcame strong winds to share the first-round lead at six-under 66 in the USPGA Tour’s Puerto Rico Open on Thursday.
“It was very windy. Just had to judge it right,” Jones said.
Jones eagled the par-five second hole and had five birdies and a bogey on the Trump International course.
“I had unbelievable ball-striking,” Jones said. “I think I was pin high every hole except 17, when I wanted to be a bit short of it, then I made good putts, had a good eagle to get started and had a great day.”
McNeill, who won the 2007 Frys.com Open for his lone USPGA Tour title, had a bogey-free round.
“It’s just like Florida, so it felt comfortable, and I happened to play well,” McNeill said. “Obviously, I hit it pretty well and putted pretty well, and the few greens that I missed, I chipped then close and had tap-ins and everything else, so I avoided the mistakes.”
Ben Curtis was a stroke back at 67.
“With the windy conditions, the big thing is to keep the ball in play, keep it in the fairway and hit a lot of greens and that’s what I did,” Curtis said. “I just tried to make a lot of controlled swings and hit the ball solid and get it going in the right direction.”
Jeff Overton, Todd Hamilton, Kevin Kisner and Daniel Summerhays followed at 68.
“It was hard,” Overton said. “A lot of wind.”
He made a double-bogey after hitting into the water on the par-four 12th, his third hole of the day, then finished the round by holing a seven-iron from 147 yards for eagle on the par-four ninth.
“The wind was howling off the right, and I started 25 yards right of the hole and I hit a draw and I thinned it just a little bit, which kept the ball down, otherwise I think the ball would have overhooked and went in the bunker,” Overton said.
Japanese star Ryo Ishikawa, playing the event for the first time after failing to qualify for the World Golf Championship event at Doral, shot a 70.
Michael Bradley, the winner in 2009 and last year, opened with a 72.
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