Overton leads first event on USPGA Tour’s new season

AFP, SAN JOSE, California

Sat, Oct 12, 2013 - Page 18

Jeff Overton fired a seven-under par 64 on Thursday to take the first-round lead in the Frys.com Open, the first event of the USPGA Tour’s new “wrap around” season for this year and next year.

Overton eagled the par-five ninth hole at CordeValle Golf Club and added five more birdies to take a one-stroke lead over fellow American Brian Harman.

Harman had eight birdies and two bogeys in his six-under 65. Kyle Stanley finished third after a five-under 66 highlighted by an eagle at the par-five 15th.

Michael Putnam, who won the money title on the Web.com developmental tour to regain his PGA Tour card, was among a group of six on 67, alongside South Korea’s Charlie Wi and J.J. Henry.

Overton, who has been working on a new grip in a bid to ease tendinitis in his wrist, said the move was paying dividends.

“My wrist has been bothering me,” he said. “I’ve had a little tendinitis in it for a few years and [the new grip] allows my wrist to get a little more square at the top of my backswing without having to tweak it a little bit.”

Overton parred his first seven holes before a birdie at the eighth, followed by his eagle at the ninth — where he hit his 250-yard second shot 21 feet from the pin and made the putt.

Back-to-back birdies at 12 and 13 were followed with another brace at 17 and 18 — tapping in from two feet at the last.

“It would be great if we can continue this thing and keep it rolling,” Overton said.

The US$5 million tournament was previously part of the USPGA Tour’s late season series, a slate of events that in recent years gave rank-and-file pros a chance to earn prize money toward keeping their tour cards, while bigger names took a break in the wake of the FedEx Cup playoffs.

This year, the Frys.com Open marks the start of the 2013-2014 season, and like all six events that will be played before January, will offer FedEx Cup playoff points and a coveted Masters berth to the winner.

Sweden’s Jonas Blixt, who captured his first PGA Tour title here last year, opened his title defense with a two-under 69 that left him in a large group sharing 19th place that also included Fijian veteran Vijay Singh and South African Tyrone van Aswegen.