WASHINGTON: New Zealand’s Danny Lee, Spain’s Sergio Garcia and American Johnson Wagner each fired seven-under-par 63s to share the lead in Thursday’s (Friday in Manila) storm-hit opening round of the US PGA Byron Nelson Championship.
World number two Jordan Spieth, who missed the cut at the Players Championship last week in his return after a last-day Masters meltdown cost him a title, shot 64 at the TPC Four Seasons, finding form in his home state on the Irving, Texas, layout.
A morning storm delay led to the first round being halted by darkness with 30 players from the field of 156 being forced to finish their opening round on Friday.
Garcia finished early while Lee was among the late finishers and Wagner made his final putt in twilight. All three started on the back nine and went bogey-free.
It was a great time for Garcia to find his form with the US Open only a month away.
“I’ve been playing decent and obviously I still feel like I can play better,” Garcia said. “Hopefully I can keep this momentum going and have a good solid week before the US Open.”
Garcia’s only US tour triumph since the 2008 Players Championship was in 2012 at Greensboro. His most recent title came last December at the Ho Tram Open in Vietnam on the Asian Tour.
“It was a great round of golf,” Garcia said. “I played pretty solid.”
Garcia sank a 17-foot birdie putt at the 15th hole to make the turn at one-under. At the par-3 second, he landed a tee shot three feet from the cup and made the birdie putt.
After adding a five-foot birdie putt on the fouth hole, Garcia ran off a 26-foot birdie putt at the sixth, eagled the par-5 seventh from 58 feet and followed with a 10-foot birdie putt at the eighth hole.
“I had a couple of pretty nice saves and I really got going on the (second) nine,” Garcia said. “I made a couple of bombs out there and that really helped.”
South Korean-born Kiwi Lee, who won his first PGA event at last year’s Greenbrier Classic, began his round with three birdies, the last of them from 21 feet. He sank a 34-foot birdie putt at the 15th and a 13-footer at the fourth, birdied the par-5 seventh and rolled in a 19-foot birdie putt at the eighth to grab a share of the lead.
Wagner opened with a 24-foot birdie at the 10th, drained a 30-footer for birdie at 14 and birdied the par-5 16th and par-3 17th. He followed with birdies at the second and third holes, the latter on a 38-foot chip, and sank another stunner birdie putt from 45 feet at the sixth to share the lead.
Wagner has won three PGA titles, the most recent of them at the 2012 Sony Open in Hawaii.
Spieth sinks stunners
Spieth shared fourth along with fellow American Dustin Johnson and Sweden’s Freddie Jacobson. Also at four-under with four holes to finish was American Tom Hoge.
Reiging US Open champion Spieth began the round with a 25-foot chip in for birdie and added birdies at the seventh and ninth holes. He birdied 11 and 12, the latter from 21 feet, but took a bogey at the par-3 13th, missing a six-foot par putt.
Spieth answered with a 13-foot birdie at the 13th and a tap-in birdie at 15.
Spieth said his game had benefited from a conscious decision to relax.
“I noticed a couple times and I was getting frustrated, ‘It’s okay, let’s take a breather’,” he said.
“You got to learn to deal with it your own way and everyone gets frustrated when you play golf. You can’t be perfect in this game.”