Wes Roach, chasing his first US PGA title, made three birdies and an eagle in the first six holes on the way to grabbing a one-stroke lead at the Palmetto Championship at Congaree.
The 32-year-old American, whose best career finish was a share of third in Detroit in 2019, fired a seven-under par 64, one off his career low, for his first overnight PGA lead.
“I did everything pretty well. I drove it nice. I putted as good as I have in a while,” Roach said. “It feels great. Hard work paying off a little bit.
“It’s just 18 holes and there’s a long ways to go, but I’m just going to do my best to stay present out there and continue to hit quality shots.”
Top-ranked hometown hero Dustin Johnson fired a bogey-free 65 to share second with fellow Americans Doc Redman and Chesson Hadley and South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen while Venezuela’s Jhonattan Vegas was sixth on 66.
“It was a really solid day and I’m definitely pleased with the round. I’m playing well,” Johnson said.
“I’ve been swinging well for a while, just haven’t really seen the results. Made a few putts, finally put a round together. If I can keep the putter rolling it’s going to be a fun week.”
The event is a one-off replacement tournament for the Canadian Open, which was cancelled due to Covid-19, and serves as the final tuneup for next week’s US Open at Torrey Pines.
Roach holed birdie putts from 10 feet at the par-5 second and seven feet at the third before holing out from 104 yards at the par-5 fourth and adding a birdie from five feet at the sixth.
“I got off to a good start, a nice up and down from the sand on one and then made a couple birdies,” Roach said. “I holed out on the fourth so that was a nice bonus as well.”
He added birdies at the ninth and par-5 12th and answered a bogey at 13 with a birdie at 16 from just inside 19 feet.
“It was kind of on cruise control,” Roach said. “It’s nice to see the ball rolling where I’m looking and going in the hole is a bonus.”
Johnson, the 2016 US Open and 2020 Masters winner, won February’s Saudi International but hasn’t cracked a US top-10 since February at Riviera.
It was Johnson’s lowest opening round since last November’s Masters victory despite no birdies on par-5 holes.
Johnson, who began on the back nine, dropped his approach inches from the cup to set up at birdie at 15, holed four birdie putts from five to 10 feet and closed by chipping in from 82 feet at the ninth.
“I missed it in the right spots when I did miss it, but hit a lot of real quality iron shots and gave myself a lot of looks,” Johnson said. “It was just a really solid day and kind of had good control of my golf ball.”
Van Rooyen fired a season low after missing the cut in his past four starts.
“Made some really solid par saves, just some momentum builders really, and from there on things just flowed nicely,” the South African said.
Hadley, whose only PGA win came at the 2014 Puerto Rico Open, matched his low score of the season and seeks his first top 10 since sharing ninth at the 2019 US Open, his best finish in nine major starts.
World number 156 Redman, whose best finish was as the 2019 Detroit runner-up, managed his first top-10 of the year by finishing ninth at last month’s Byron Nelson.
Maguire races into LPGA Mediheal Championship lead
San Francisco: Leona Maguire fired nine birdies in a sparkling seven-under par 65 on Thursday, matching the Mediheal Championship 18-hole scoring record to seize the first-round lead in the LPGA event.
Maguire, back in action after failing to qualify for last week’s US Women’s Open, posted four birdies in her first six holes on the back nine at Lake Merced Golf Club. She answered a bogey at the 16th with back-to-back birdies at 17 and 18, then birdied three more holes coming in before giving a shot back at the ninth — her final hole.
She had a one-stroke lead over Jasmine Suwannapura of Thailand, who had eight birdies in her 66. Switzerland’s Albane Valenzuela and American Alison Lee shared third on 68 and South Korean star Park In-bee headlined a group of six players on three-under 69.
“I got off to a really nice start,” said Maguire, a former amateur world number one who has two wins on the developmental Symetra tour but is still seeking a first LPGA victory.
“Birdied my opening two holes, which kind of settled me in quite nicely, holed some really good putts and in general it was a pretty stress-free day,” added Maguire, who hit 11 of 14 fairways and 16 of 18 greens in regulation. “I hit a lot of fairways, hit a lot of greens and, yeah, my putting was nice.”
Maguire said she felt at home at Lake Merced, where the chilly morning temperatures and the layout reminded her of courses in Ireland.
“It’s a lot of the same style of golf course, same weather as home,” she said. “Got a nice feeling straight away when we arrived on Monday.”
Despite her closing bogey, Maguire walked off the course with a four-shot lead.
But Jasmine — two-under after four birdies and two bogeys on the front nine — nabbed four birdies on the back nine, pulling within one of the lead with a birdie at the 18th. Lee’s eventful round included a double bogey at the par-four 14th — promptly followed by an eagle at 15. (AFP)
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