5 Things: Hanson leads Byron Nelson Championship

Peter Hanson
Peter Hanson ( Associated Press )

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Peter Hanson birdied his final hole en route to a 5-under 65 in Thursday's opening round of the HP Byron Nelson Championship.

The Swede leads David Duval, Tim Wilkinson and Marc Leishman by a shot at TPC Four Seasons Resort. Last week's winner at The Players, Martin Kaymer, is among a large group tied for fourth at 3 under.

Here are 5 Things you need to know from Thursday's first-round action in San Antonio:

• • •

1. HOW SWEDE IT IS: Peter Hanson opened with five birdies on the front nine Thursday at the HP Byron Nelson Championship.

"Always nice to get off to a fast start," Hanson said.

It was especially nice considering Hanson was making his first appearance at TPC Four Seasons Resort and had yet to even practice on the back nine. The lack of familiarity caught up to him a little, as the Swede went even par for his final nine holes.

He did have one birdie on the back, and it came at the par-4 18th hole. Hanson stuck his approach shot to about 3 feet and made the short putt to wrap up a 5-under 65, which ended up being good enough for the first-round lead.

Hanson had withdrawn from his last start, the Wells Fargo Championship, and said he was still experiencing pain, although he "really wanted to play this week."

• • •

2. SPIETH ENDURES: It's understandable that Jordan Spieth was a little upset Thursday.

The 20-year-old Texas product is making his fourth start at the Byron Nelson this week. It's an event he's never missed the cut in, and coming off strong performances at The Players and the Masters, Spieth was a popular pick to win at TPC Four Seasons Resort.

But an opening-round, even-par 70 left a lot to be desired.

"It was a difficult day," said Spieth, who found just four fairways and also had a double bogey at the par-4 third hole. The double was just his second in his last 15 rounds on the PGA Tour.

Spieth was able to finish strong, though. He birdied two of his last three holes to avoid a second straight over-par round dating to last week's final round of The Players, where he shot 74 to end his chances at victory.

"I was upset today," Spieth said. "I get upset out here when things aren't going my way because I want them to so bad. (My caddie) Michael (Greller) did a great job of calming me down, putting things in perspective, and we got a couple (birdies) to finish to get back in it."

• • •

3. DUVAL ALMOST WDs, CLOSES STRONG: David Duval made six birdies Thursday at TPC Four Seasons Resort – four of them came in his final five holes.

The strong finish almost didn't happen, though. Duval nearly withdrew because of pain in his right elbow.

Duval was even par through 13 holes before a pitch-in birdie at the par-3 fifth hole, Duval's 13th hole of the day. After a par at the par-4 sixth, Duval closed his first round with three straight birdies at Nos. 7-9, and finished with a 4-under 66.

The round was Duval's best round on Tour since 2011.

His birdie at the par-5 seventh was the result of another holed pitch shot while his birdie at the par-4 ninth came on a 17-foot putt.

Duval has made just three cuts in seven tries so far this season, and hasn't finished better than T-25, either.

• • •

4. BLINDED BY THE LIGHT: Marc Leishman entered the week having not recorded a top-20 finish since January. The Australian has gone eight starts without a finish better than T-23 after posting two top fives in his first four starts of the season.

But he has a good track record at the HP Byron Nelson Championship, with four finishes of T-12 or better in four of five starts.

"I like this place," said Leishman, who continued his strong play at TPC Four Seasons Resort with an opening-round, 4-under 66 Thursday.

Leishman missed just one fairway and two greens. He also made just one bogey to go along with five birdies. One of his birdies came at the par-4 third hole, which ranked as the most difficult.

Two holes prior to that came another one of his birdies. At the par-3 second, staring into the sun, Leishman hit his tee shot and quickly lost sight of it. But then he heard cheers from the crowd as his ball ended up about a foot away from the hole.

"It was a good surprise," Leishman said. "I thought I hit a good shot, but it's hard to tell when you're looking straight into the sun. That's one of the toughest shots in golf."

• • •

5. SHORT SHOTS: Ryan Palmer, who again at the Byron Nelson is letting caddie James Edmondson choose his club for each shot, shot 3-under 67, his best round on Tour since the second round of the Honda Classic in February. . . . Dustin Johnson, who has a WD, missed cut and T-59 finish in three starts since early March, shot 1-under 69 Thursday. . . . Scottie Scheffler, an amateur who will be a freshman at Texas this fall, opened with a 1-over 71. Scheffler made three birdies in his last five holes.

Information from PGA Tour was used in this report.

Golfweek.com readers: We value your input and welcome your comments, but please be respectful in this forum.