Australian Nathan Green conquered his nerves to complete a bogey-free 66 on Thursday, good enough to make him one of six players sharing the first-round lead in the USPGA Tour St Jude Classic.
Green, who won his only USPGA title at the 2009 Canadian Open, has struggled with his game in recent years, so finding himself in the lead midway through the round was an unfamiliar experience.
“I was starting to get nervous seeing my name on the board,” said Green, who tapped in for his fourth birdie of the day at the par-five 16th, then parred the last two in a four-under effort on the par-70 TPC at Southwind layout.
He was joined at four-under by compatriot Stuart Appleby, US veteran Davis Love, Glen Day, Martin Flores and Harris English.
Another 11 players, including defending champion Dustin Johnson and two-time St Jude winner David Toms, were a stroke back on three-under 67, with another nine on 68.
As crowded as the leaderboard was, four-time major champion Phil Mickelson did not figure on it.
Mickelson, playing in the US$5.7 million tournament with one eye on next week’s US Open at Merion Golf Club, carded a one-over 71.
Mickelson opened his round with a promising birdie at the par-four 10th. However, he bogeyed 15, where he missed the green and pitched 30 feet past the hole.
His second shot into the par-five 16th found a greenside bunker and he hit over the green with his third shot. After landing in the sand again, he ended up with a double-bogey seven and followed that with a bogey at 17.
He clawed back with three straight birdies starting at the first, but capped his round with one last bogey at the ninth.
Green was the only one of the leading group to play without a bogey.
AP, ATZENBRUGG, Austria
England’s Tom Lewis put himself in contention for his first European Tour top-10 finish in two years by shooting a nine-under 63 in the opening round of the Lyoness Open on Thursday.
His flawless round earned him a two-stroke lead over Joost Luiten of the Netherlands.
Fellow Englishmen Graeme Storm, Richard McEvoy and Simon Dyson, as well as France’s Alexander Levy, each shot a 66 to share third.
Lewis made his professional debut at the Lyoness Open in 2011 and won the Portugal Masters that year on his third start as a pro.
On Thursday, he carded nine birdies, including three in a row on his front nine, and earned two more strokes on his final two holes.
“I had some good fortune around the 17th and 18th,” said Lewis, who started on the 10th. “That made the back nine more relaxed. I holed a lot of putts, which was really the only difference between today and the rest of the year.”
Luiten started off with five birdies on his first six holes, but bogeyed the par-five 13th.
Storm and Levy both made three straight birdies on the front nine and seven in total, but bogeyed the par-four last hole. McEnvoy and Dyson later joined the pair at six-under.
Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain holed four birdies in his first seven holes and was joined by Austrian amateur Matthias Schwab in a group that was four strokes off the pace.
Defending champion Bernd Wiesberger hit a 68. The 61st-ranked Austrian is aiming for a top-10 finish to qualify for the US Open next week.
Richard Green of Australia, who won the event in 2007, carded a four-over 76, while 2010 champion Jose Manuel Lara of Spain had a triple-bogey and a double-bogey on the first and second hole to finish eight-over-par.