SEA ISLAND, United States: American Kevin Kisner, four times a PGA runner-up this year, fired a seven-under par 65 on Thursday (Friday in Manila) to grab a one-stroke lead after the first round of the RSM Classic.
Kisner, still seeking his first PGA title, made five birdies and eagled his penultimate hole, the par-5 eighth at the Plantation Course, during a bogey-free round to claim his first opening-round lead after 109 tour starts.
The event, hosted by Davis Love, is played over two courses, the par-70 Seaside Course and the par-72 Plantation layout.
Kisner lost three playoffs earlier this year, falling to Jim Furyk’s birdie on the second playoff hole at the Heritage in April, then losing to Rickie Fowler’s birdie on the first sudden death playoff hole after a three-hole aggregate deadlock at the Players Championship in May and falling in a four-man playoff at the Greenbrier in July won by New Zealand’s Danny Lee.
On top of that, the 31-year-old American settled for second behind Scotsman Russell Knox earlier this month at the World Golf Championships tournament in Shanghai.
Kisner began off the 10th tee and birdied the par-3 11th, then closed the side with birdies at 17 and 18. He birdied the par-5 fourth and par-4 sixth before soaring atop the leaderboard on eagle’s wings at the par-5 eighth.
But no first-round leader has ever won this event and no first-round leader has yet won the in 2015-16 PGA campaign.
Eight rivals were one stroke off the pace, three after six-under 64s at Seaside and five others after 66s at Plantation.
Canada’s David Hearn birdied four of his first six holes, including a chip-in at the par-3 12th, to join Americans Tom Hoge and Jeff Overton with 64s at Seaside.
Overton is in his 272nd PGA event without a win, with the most recent of his four career runner-up efforts coming at Greenbrier in 2010.
Those who shot 66 at Plantation to reach six-under included South Korean Kim Si-Woo and Americans Jim Herman, Kyle Stanley, Kevin Chappell and Scott Stallings.
Stewart Cink, in his 499th career PGA Tour event, shot 67 at Plantation. The American seeks his seventh tour title but is winless in 147 starts since beating Tom Watson in a playoff at the 2009 British Open.
Love, 51, fired a 70 in his 720th PGA start. The 2016 US Ryder Cup captain, who won three months ago at Greensboro to become the third-oldest champion in tour history, played alongside his son Dru, who fired a 70 in his PGA debut.