Mississippi native Davis Riley shot a bogey-free, 6-under-par 66 on Thursday to earn a share of the first-round lead at the Sanderson Farms Championship in Jackson, Mississippi. Riley and Will Gordon set the early pace ahead of seven players one stroke behind them at 5-under 67.
Riley, 25, started off hot with four birdies over the first seven holes at the Country Club of Jackson. He added two more at Nos 15 and 16, the latter an 18-foot putt, his longest of the day.
“I didn’t have the best day with my driver, but when I did hit the fairway, I felt like I gave myself a really good opportunity to hit some nice approaches in there.”
Riley’s best showing on the PGA Tour was a second-place finish at last year’s Valspar Championship. There’s added pressure to win his home-state event. The Hattiesburg native called the tournament “my fifth major” earlier this week.
“I think that’s probably why I haven’t played my best golf here in the past just because it’s right down the road,” Riley said Thursday. “I have so many friends and family here. I want to perform. It just would be a really, really special tournament to win.”
Gordon finished the day with seven birdies and just one bogey. He made a late move up the leaderboard at the end of the afternoon with birdies at Nos 14, 15 and 17 to tie Riley.
“I felt like my game was really good,” said Gordon, who is ranked No 219 in the world and earned his PGA Tour card in August a year after losing it. “I kept putting myself in the fairway and gave myself some good birdie opportunities. It was a really good and really solid opening round just to get myself in the golf tournament.”
Tied at 5-under 67 were Andrew Putnam, Brandon Matthews, Mark Hubbard, Trevor Cone, Taiwan’s Kevin Yu, South Africa’s Christiaan Bezuidenhout and Belgium’s Thomas Detry. Bezuidenhout, coming off his Presidents Cup debut last week, made six birdies and one bogey.
Davis Riley of the US plays his shot from the 18th tee during the Sanderson Farms Championship at The Country Club of Jackson in Jackson, Mississippi. (AFP)