The RBC Heritage started two month later than ordinary with slightly rain, slightly sunshine and quite a lot of birdies, most of them from Jordan Spieth to show a tough begin right into a livid end.
Ian Poulter holed a 30-foot birdie putt and adopted with a 5-iron to four toes for a birdie that closed out his spherical of 7-under 64, giving him a share of the lead Thursday with Mark Hubbard at Hilton Head.
“I’ve all the time liked coming right here to play golf,” stated Poulter, and he has loads of firm this 12 months.
The highest three gamers on the earth are at Hilton Head — Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas — and none broke par on a day during which 66 gamers within the 151-man subject shot within the 60s. A 12 months in the past, solely 38 gamers within the 132-man subject opened with rounds within the 60s.
Spieth would not have guessed he could be considered one of them after a tee shot what was 5 yards proper of the 12th fairway hit a tree and did not cease rolling till it was out-of-bounds. He made triple bogey and was Three over via three holes.
“Rapidly, I am Three over via three, and also you begin to see guys going 2 below via two, 2 below via three early,” Spieth stated. “It is not an incredible feeling.”
Decided to at the very least attempt to get below par for his spherical, Spieth had a career-best six straight birdies on his again 9 and completed with seven birdies over his final eight holes for a 66.
Canada’s Mackenzie Hughes was tied for 10th at 5-under 66, whereas Corey Conners shot 3-under and Roger Sloan got here in at 1-under. Adam Hadwin, Michael Gligic and David Hearn all completed over par for the day.
WATCH | Prime photographs from 1st day at RBC Heritage:
Poulter and Hubbard, who began birdie-eagle, had been a shot forward of a gaggle that included Webb Simpson, Ryan Palmer and Viktor Hovland, Colonial winner Daniel Berger, Brooks Koepka, Ernie Els and that unbelievable bulk, Bryson DeChambeau, had been within the giant group at 67.
DeChambeau, who added some 40 kilos of mass to extend his swing pace, was hammering photographs over the vary throughout follow earlier within the week. He needed to tone it down on the tight, tree-lined Harbour City Golf Hyperlinks.
“I could not unleash the Kraken right this moment,” DeChambeau stated, a pupil of physics and Scandinavian folklore. “It was simply too tight on the market. The wind was swirling all day, and I could not really feel snug to provide it whack, however I used to be nonetheless capable of handle retaining it largely within the fairway.”
Dustin Johnson was poised to make a transfer till hit into the water on the par-3 14th and compounding the error with a three-putt triple bogey. He nonetheless managed a 68.
Spectators on property
It was the primary PGA Tour with spectators on the property, simply not on the golf course with tickets.
Harbour City is lined with trip houses, villas and townhouses, and loads of folks spilled onto their decks and into their yards to observe. The tour has ropes to line the green. This 12 months, they put up ropes to line the yards to maintain folks from coming all the best way onto the course.
One household had a join Spieth as he walked alongside the eighth fairway, considered one of solely two holes on the entrance 9 the place he did not make birdie.
That shot out-of-bounds had all markings of unhealthy breaks he has seen too typically throughout three winless years. With a provisional tee shot within the fairway, Spieth went over to take a look at the timber, after which some 20 yards to the precise at his authentic tee shot nestled within the pine straw. After which he three-putted.
As a substitute of getting down, he advised caddie Michael Greller on the following tee, “That is over. Le’ts get 4 (birdies) right this moment and shoot below par.”
“I ended up getting a number of greater than that,” he stated.
McIlroy, Thomas wrestle
Identical to final week’s opening spherical at Colonial, he received scorching on his again 9. The streak started with an 8-foot putt on the par-5 second gap, and included a 7-iron to four toes to a left pin close to the water on the par-Three fourth. He was on such a roll that Spieth started to ponder eight straight birdies to finish his spherical. However he noticed sufficient mud on his ball from the green on No. Eight that he performed conservatively to 30 toes, after which completed with one other brief birdie.
McIlroy and Thomas, who each had possibilities to win going into the ultimate spherical at Colonial final 12 months, had 72. Rahm had a 71. For McIlroy, it was the primary time because the ZoZo Championship in Japan in late October that he was over par after the primary spherical.
Rory McIlroy was amongst those that struggled, and solely a pair of birdies on the again 9 stored it from being worse. He opened with a 72. That ended a streak of seven straight tournaments during which he broke par within the opening spherical courting to the ZoZo Championship in Japan final October.
“I am kind of lacking my 3-wood left and lacking my driver proper,” McIlroy stated. “When you’re in any approach like in two minds what to do off the tees round right here and get slightly bit kind of guidey, it may possibly chew you.”