England’s Brian Davis had eight birdies in a six-under par 65, grabbing a one-stroke lead after the first round of the US$5.8 million US PGA Tour Heritage tournament on Thursday.
Davis, who lost a playoff to Jim Furyk on the same Harbour Town Golf Links course in 2010 — after he called a penalty on himself — appeared pleased to have the chance to put it behind him, though the incident lingers.
“It’s good in this game to have a short memory — good or bad,” he said.
Davis penalized himself when he knocked a loose stalk during his backswing when playing out of the rough three years ago — violating the rule against moving a loose impediment during a takeaway.
“I still have people stop me in the street or at the golf club or at airports,” he said. “People do remember, but for me I’m just trying to move on from that, and trying to win a golf tournament.”
His efforts included a run of six birdies in seven holes, starting at the par-five fifth.
The burst was sandwiched between bogeys at the fourth and 12th, but Davis picked up two more birdies at the 13th and the par-three 17th to give himself the lead over US pair Kevin Streelman and Charley Hoffman.
Davis landed his approach at the fifth hole six feet from the pin, but missed the eagle attempt. However, that birdie marked a turnaround in his day.
He birdied the next two, and after a par at eight, he birdied three more in a row before giving one stroke back.
He got to six-under with a 22-foot birdie putt at 17.
“I wasn’t worried about my score or about my misses, I was just playing,” Davis said.
Streelman and Hoffman each had six birdies and one bogey in their five-under 66s.
Australians Jason Day and Marc Leishman, both trying to bounce back after falling short at the Masters, were tied with American Johnson Wagner on 67.
Day and Leishman avoided bogeys and the former was happy to be in a less stressful environment than Augusta National, but he was quick to add that he did not consider this week’s tournament a holiday.
“Playing last week it felt like there was pressure the whole week,” said Day, who finished third at the Masters after missing out on the playoff in which compatriot Adam Scott defeated Argentina’s Angel Cabrera.
“Coming into this week it’s pretty laid back, but it is a tour event and I want to do well,” he said.