5 Things: Low numbers return in Fort Worth

Ryan Palmer during the first round of the Crown Plaza Invitational at Colonial.

Ryan Palmer during the first round of the Crown Plaza Invitational at Colonial.

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FORT WORTH, Texas –– Call it a Dallas re-run, only set in Fort Worth. But one week after warm temperatures and benign wind enabled the PGA Tour chaps to open with silly low numbers at the HP Byron Nelson Championship, similar conditions greeted players at Thursday’s opening round of the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial.

Though no one matched Keegan Bradley’s 60 of a week ago, Ryan Palmer did post 62 and three others went for 64. In all, there were 22 scores at 66 or better.

As beloved a layout as they play on Tour, Colonial Country Club is a true joy. What it isn’t is a course that pounds you into submission, especially when it’s warm and the greens are as receptive as they presently are.

Of course, whereas 10 under led last week’s first round, the winning score only moved to 13 under three days later. The culprit was stronger wind and dried-out greens. That's good news for some, because guess what? The forecast the next three days calls for warm temperatures and increasing winds.

Then again, the weather often changes, so forget all that and focus on these 5 Things you need to know from Round 1:

• • •

1. Like, I’m supposed to be impressed?

Four consecutive birdies starting at the 14th? Ho-hum.

Not even the birdie at the par-5 first, his 10th hole, or those at the par-4 sixth or par-4 seventh provided reason for Palmer’s caddie to be excited. Sure, Palmer was 7 under through 16 holes, but after hitting the green at the par-3 eighth and driving it into the fairway at No. 9, caddie James Edmondson looked at his boss and merely said, “You know, if you birdie, you’ll tie my low round.”

What’s a PGA Tour winner to do but laugh.

“What do you do when you get that thrown at you?” Palmer said. “We had a good laugh on that one.”

Of course, Palmer really had reason to feel good at his final hole, the par-4 ninth, when he slipped home a 5-footer for birdie and a round of 8-under 62. It’s the best score Edmondson, a three-time club champion at Colonial, has ever recorded at this venerable course.

Nice to have such a wise hand guiding him? Palmer shook his head. “More like a wise ass,” quipped Palmer, who is also a member at Colonial.

In nine previous appearances in this tournament, Palmer’s best score was 63, though only once has he really threatened (last year, T-5). He’s clearly in position to do that this year, but regardless, you won’t hear him plead a lack of knowledge.

“I hit driver almost everywhere that I could,” Palmer said. “Where guys are hitting rescues, I’m hitting drivers. It worked today.”

• • •

2. Bad drive, oh, and about that anchoring

Carl Pettersson has a gentle way about him, a nice smile, and great sense of humor. So after shooting 4-under 66 in the early wave, he signed his card and knew the media would have some questions.

About the three straight birdies to start his round? Not exactly.

About getting 6 under through 13? Not that, either.

Nope, after some introductions there was wonderment about what happened at the par-4 14th? “I didn’t hit a very good tee shot into the trees on the right,” he said, “and I tried to chip it on (the green).” But he left it short, the old “one mistake after another,” and by the time he was through, Pettersson had a double bogey.

Then came the obligatory question about the way in which Pettersson putts, being that he anchors. He heard the bad news Tuesday morning, that the USGA and R&A will go forward with their plan to ban the stroke come 2016 and given that he’s used the technique, you can pretty much understand why he’s disappointed.

“I don’t agree with the decision,” he said. “I hope the PGA Tour takes the stand that they’ve already said they are going to take (against the ban). I hope (Tim) Finchem stays firm on that and we will see what happens.”

• • •

3. Last shall be first

Actually, that’s not totally true, because John Peterson wasn’t last out; he was in the penultimate group off No. 10. And he wasn’t first; he shot 6-under 64 to get into a share of third, just two off Ryan Palmer’s lead.

But when Peterson slipped in a 12-footer for birdie at the par-4 ninth, his 18th hole, the crowd erupted. It might not have been a huge following, given that it was 6:15 p.m., but certainly it was a happy one. That’s because while Peterson is so connected to LSU, he is the pride of Forth Worth.

Certainly, he has a flair for the dramatic when it comes to playing in front of home crowds. At the Zurich Classic in New Orleans a few weeks ago, Peterson finished joint eighth. Now he’s at it again in the town where he was born, shooting 30 on his second nine to give his fans a reason to head for dinner with smiles on their faces.

• • •

4. Curb the enthusiasm

Out in the second group off the 10th tee, Matt Every posted a bogey-free 5-under 65.

By the tone in his voice and his descriptions, you’d think he had shot 85.

Best birdie? “It was pretty boring. Nothing like I didn’t steal any shots, if that’s what you mean.”

OK, do you feel comfortable at Colonial, given that you are a former Hogan Award winner? “The only thing that I have in common with this course is that my name is on the trophy inside. It’s not like played this course to win that award.”

Maybe a rundown of the conditions? “It was pretty easy, not much rough off the tee. Hitting it in the fairways isn’t as important as it usually is. The greens are pretty receptive. There was enough wind to know it was there, but, you know, nothing crazy.”

• • •

5. Short shots

Pat Perez withdrew after seven holes, citing a shoulder injury . . . . . Given the lack of wind and receptive greens, the scoring spree was no surprise. More than half the field (71 of 135) broke par, including Tommy Gainey. He posted 65, just his second sub-70 score since the Sony Open in Hawaii. It’s his best score of the year . . . . . There were four eagles, but two of them came on par-4s – Charlie Wi holed out from 105 yards at the second, Robert Allenby from 136 yards at 17 . . . . Hard to believe, given the field average of 69.6, but not everyone prospered. Steven Bowditch failed to make a birdie and shot 82, while Ryan Moore and Brendan Steele each had 42 on the front and shot 78 and 77, respectively . . . . . Vijay Singh shot 74 and is now 25 over for his last 24 rounds, dating back to the Northern Trust Open . . . . . Of the Champions Tour contingent, only David Frost (69) broke par. Corey Pavin shot 71, Tom Lehman 72, and Keith Clearwater 75.

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