Ryan Palmer fired a bogey-free eight-under-par 62 on Thursday to take a one-stroke lead over fellow US golfer John Rollins after the first round of the PGA Crowne Plaza Invitational.
Palmer, a member at the host Colonial Country Club, used his knowledge to full advantage in the opening 18 holes of the US$6.4 million event to edge Rollins for the lead.
“This golf course, I know where to hit it,” Palmer said. “I hit driver all day. I was able to attack it and it paid off.”
Canada’s Graham DeLaet and David Hearn, and Americans Morgan Hoffmann and John Peterson shared third on 64.
After starting on the 10th tee, Palmer charged to the top with a run of four birdies in a row from the par-four 14th through the par-four 17th, then began his second nine with a birdie at the first hole.
Palmer closed strong with birdies on three of the last four holes.
“That was a lot of fun,” Palmer said. “I just got into my round halfway through. My front nine I just hit some good shots close. I had a lot of six and seven footers for birdie.”
Palmer finished fifth at Phoenix and shared fifth earlier this month at The Players Championship, despite the death of a friend in an auto accident earlier that week in San Antonio, Texas.
Palmer is seeking his fourth PGA title, his first since the 2010 Sony Open in Hawaii. His other tour triumphs came in 2004 at Disney World and 2008 at the now-defunct Ginn sur Mer Classic.
Rollins opened with back-to-back birdies and added another at the par-four sixth. He began the back side with two birdies as well, before taking his lone bogey at the par-four 12th.
Rollins answered with birdies at the par-three 13th and par-four 15th and closed with another to stay within reach of Palmer as he chases his fourth PGA title after wins at the 2002 Canadian Open, 2006 BC Open and 2009 Reno-Tahoe Open.
Hoffman had a bogey-free round with birdies on the par-five first and 11th, and the par-three eighth as well as 12, 14 and 17.
Hearn opened with a birdie and birdied four of the last five holes on the front nine.
He answered a bogey at the 14th with a birdie at 15 and closed with another.
DeLaet birdied three of the first four holes, added back-to-back birdies at seven and eight, and another at the 12th in a bogey-free round.
Peterson, who began off the 10th tee, took a bogey at 11, but birdied the next two holes, began his second nine with a birdie at the first, ran off three birdies in a row starting at the par-three fourth and then closed with a birdie.