Hodges grabs first-round lead PGA Tour 3M Open
LOS ANGELES - Lee Hodges sizzled in sweltering conditions Thursday, grabbing eight birdies in an eight-under par 63 to take a one-shot first-round lead at the US PGA Tour 3M Open in Blaine, Minnesota.
Hodges opened with three straight birdies at the 10th, 11th and 12th holes at TPC Twin Cities. He tapped in from inches away at the 10th then rolled in a 32-footer at 11.
He made another trio of birdies around the turn at 18, one and two, then put together back-to-back birdies at six and seven to break free of a group of four players sharing second on seven-under 64.
"Everything," Hodges said of what went well. "Really committed to every shot out there, hit a lot of really good ones."
Hodges, chasing a first US PGA Tour title, said poor starts had contributed to three missed cuts in his last four events, so his strong start was key.
"To see that wedge shot go to an inch on the first hole and then make that 40-footer on the second hole, I was like, "All right, here we go, might as well make a lot of birdies if we're going to make a couple."
The quartet on seven-under included former Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama, who had seven birdies without a bogey.
Brandt Snedeker and Tyler Duncan also had seven birdies and no bogeys while Kevin Streelman joined the group with an eagle at the 18th, capping a round that also featured six birdies and one bogey.
"All in all it was very solid, didn't miss too many and made an awesome finish there, a great three-iron into 18 and then buried the putt," said Streelman after drilling a 16-footer.
Matsuyama played before the worst of the afternoon's gusty winds, but he needed some treatment for mild heat-related symptoms after his round.
"It got really hot out there on the back nine," the Japanese star said. "I'll relax this afternoon and hopefully get ready to play well again tomorrow."
Americans Justin Suh and Nick Hardy and Argentina's Emiliano Grillo were tied at six-under.
Hardy closed with an unlikely birdie at 18, where the rookie's drive went well right and finished up behind a tree.
"I had an angle to hit the shot, I just had to hook a nine-iron with no follow-through," said Hardy, who ended up bending his club on the shot that nevertheless left him an 11-foot birdie putt.
Defending champion Tony Finau was in another big group on five-under par 66. He teed off on 10 and was five-under through his first four holes thanks to three birdies and a 49-foot eagle at the 12th.
Struggling former world number one Justin Thomas, who added the tournament to his schedule as he tries to avoid missing the FedEx Cup play-offs for the first time since 2014, carded a two-under par 69.
"I played really well," said Thomas, who is also trying to secure a US Ryder Cup berth. "I think everybody that played this afternoon was pretty shocked with that wind. It was not only blowing hard, but it was blowing in different directions." - AFP