Jeff Overton, No. 74 on the FedExCup points list, jumped out to the first-round lead at the HP Byron Nelson Championship with a 6-under 64, taking a one-stroke lead over Ryan Palmer. A year ago, Overton posted rounds of 67-65-69-71 to finish 8-under and runner-up to Jason Day by two strokes.
First-round leaders have not fared well at the HP Byron Nelson Championship over the previous 57 playings of the tournament. Only seven players (eight times) have carried the opening-day lead on to victory, including Jason Day (2010), Scott Simpson (1993), Tom Watson (1979-80), Mark Hayes (1976), Chi Chi Rodriguez (1972), Earl Stewart (1961) and Don January (1956). Tiger Woods (1999) owns the tournament first-round low score with a 61 (Cottonwood Valley). Only two players have won the tournament in wire-to-wire fashion – Mark Hayes in 1976 and Tom Watson in 1980.
Ryan Palmer recorded a 5-under 65 on Thursday in his 15th start of the season. Currently No. 46 on the FedExCup points list, he owns two top-10 finishes this season (4th – Bob Hope Classic, T10 – Masters Tournament). One of the local favorites this week at
the TPC Four Seasons Resort, the 34-year-old native of Amarillo, TX has typically struggled at the event. In seven previous starts, Palmer owns just one made cut (T73 – 2006). His 65 on Thursday tops his previous-best round at the HP Byron Nelson Championship of 67 in 2005 (missed the cut). Palmer’s 65 on Thursday is quite an improvement over the 72.29 first-round stroke average that he owns in seven previous starts at the HP Byron Nelson Championship.
Sergio Garcia posted a 4-under 66 on Thursday in his 11th start at the HP Byron Nelson Championship. Among his seven made cuts at TPC Four Seasons Resort is a victory in 2004 and T3 in his inaugural appearance in 1999.
Dustin Johnson (66), playing in the same group as Sergio Garcia (66) and K.J. Choi (71), posted his eighth round in the 60s in his last nine rounds at the TPC Four Seasons Resort. Making his fourth start at the event, he has finished T4 in 2009 and T7 in 2010 at the HP Byron Nelson Championship the last two seasons. Johnson is making his 12th start of the season, with a second-place finish at the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship and a T3 at the Farmers Insurance Open. He is No. 28 in the FedExCup standings.
Amateur Jordan Spieth had six birdies on Thursday on his way to a 1-under 69. The 17-year-old returns to the site of his T16 finish at the 2010 HP Byron Nelson Championship, where at the age of 16 years, 9 months and 24 days, he became the sixth youngest player in TOUR history to make a cut.
Scott Piercy birdied four holes in a row (Nos. 5-8) en route to a 4-under 66 in his second start at the HP Byron Nelson Championship
Jason Day opened his title defense of the HP Byron Nelson Championship with a 2-over 72. He is seeking to become the first repeat winner of the HP Byron Nelson Championship since Tom Watson won three in a row from 1978-80. A year ago, Day won by two shots over Brian Gay, Jeff Overton and Blake Adams in his first appearance at the HP Byron Nelson Championship.
Jeff Overton 64 (-6)
Ryan Palmer 65 (-5)
Sergio Garcia 66 (-4)
Dustin Johnson 66 (-4)
Jeff Quinney 66 (-4)
Scott Piercy 66 (-4)
Will Strickler 66 (-4)
Chris Riley 66 (-4)
Josh Teater 66 (-4)
Joe Ogilvie 66 (-4)
Keegan Bradley 66 (-4)
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