PGA Tour rookie Sebastian Munoz fires 61 to lead Greenbrier Classic

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PGA Tour rookie Sebastian Munoz fires 61 to lead Greenbrier Classic

PGA Tour

PGA Tour rookie Sebastian Munoz fires 61 to lead Greenbrier Classic

Here is a recap of the first round of the Greenbrier Classic, played at The Old White TPC in White Sulphur Springs, W. Va.:

LEADING: That’s the way to finish. Sebastian Munoz birdies Nos. 14-17 to fire an opening 9-under 61 and lead by two. A stunning round at The Old White TPC, but Munoz doesn’t threaten the course record (remember Stuart Appleby once shot 59 here to win). But yeah, who is Munoz? The 24-year-old Colombian is a PGA Tour rookie, having never made a start on the circuit until this season. He earned his card by way of his 22nd-place finish (in large part thanks to a win) on the 2016 Web.com Tour money list. With a low priority ranking, though, this is only his 12th PGA Tour start of the season. In fact, he’s played three Web.com Tour events in between, finishing runner-up at one of them. Munoz had struggled in his PGA Tour starts this year, only making six cuts and posting a best finish of T-27 at the Valero Texas Open. He’s currently 198th in the FedEx Cup standings. This week could change his fortunes quickly if he keeps things up. Munoz actually had two stretches of four straight birdies, posting a streak from Nos. 2-5 as well. After a birdie at the seventh, he was already 5 under. He moved to 6 under with a birdie at the 10th. A bogey at No. 13 seemed like it would slow his roll until he had that big finishing kick. It’s one round, but this is a great start for a guy who generally needs to push his game into a higher gear either now or real soon to keep his PGA Tour card.

CHASING: Davis Love III defies age and fires a 7-under 63. That score gave the 53-year-old the lead through the morning wave. Munoz passed him in the afternoon, but Love is in second through 18 holes. Love is already the third-oldest PGA Tour winner thanks to his 2015 Wyndham Championship triumph at age 51. But if he could somehow win this week, Love would become the oldest champion in PGA Tour history. More on that here. Six players are tied for third at 6 under. Danny Lee, the defending champion, is among that group. So is surprise U.S. Open contender Xander Schauffele. David Lingmerth, who led after each of the first three rounds at last week’s Quicken Loans National, is also among those at 6 under.

SHOT OF THE DAY: A fine 1-under 69 for Webb Simpson and a solid turnaround after being 2 over through 11. It helped when he chipped in for eagle at the par-5 12th. Here’s that beauty of a shot, with a spirited celebration.

QUOTABLE: “I’ve been working real hard the last couple weeks on trying to fix my swing to swing around a stiff back and a stiff hip. I put a lot of time in hitting balls and trying to get back to hitting it solid.” – Davis Love III

SHORT SHOTS: Patrick Reed shoots 4-under 66 to find himself T-13. … On the same day it’s announced that his former caddie, Jim “Bones” Mackay, will become an on-course reporter, Phil Mickelson shoots 67 to find himself T-16 early. This is Mickelson’s first competitive round since the split with Mackay, his caddie of 25 years. Mickelson’s younger brother, Tim, is filling in as caddie for the remainder of the season. … Joaquin Niemann, the top-ranked amateur in the world and a talent with a story to look out for, shoots 68 and is T-25. The 18-year-old made his PGA Tour debut at last month’s U.S. Open, where he missed the cut. … Charles Howell III is T-43 at 1 under. He’s coming off a playoff loss at the Quicken Loans – his first event after an 11-week absence. … Bubba Watson also shoots 1 under on the opening day. … John Daly shoots 73 and is T-132. … Grayson Murray withdraws from the tournament due to illness.

UP NEXT: Golf Channel will air second-round coverage from 3-6 p.m. Follow all the action live on Golfweek.com and our Facebook and Twitter feeds.

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