Robby Shelton was third on the Korn Ferry Tour regular-season points list last season. In his first round as a full member on the PGA Tour, Shelton got off to a blistering hot start Thursday morning in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.
The 24-year-old Alabama native took the early lead at A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier, the first event of the 2019-20 PGA Tour season, with an 8-under-par 62.
Starting his day on the back nine, Shelton made birdie on Nos. 11, 14, 16 and 17 before carding his lone bogey of the day on the par-3 18th hole. He then made the turn and immediately caught fire, birdieing his next three holes as well as No. 6 and No. 9 to take the early lead.
Leaderboard: A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier
Shelton said he had trouble sleeping after going to bed early at 9 p.m. Wednesday. “I’ve been waiting for this moment all season,” he said. “After winning two times on the Korn Ferry I knew it was coming, and just been super excited. It’s finally here.”
Shelton held a two-shot lead over Scott Harrington, Mark Hubbard, defending champion Kevin Na, Lanto Griffin and Zack Sucher. Three shots back at 5 under was a group of 10 players that included Joaquin Niemann, Harold Varner III and Jimmy Walker among others.
Shelton is no stranger to winning professional events. He earned two wins last season on the Korn Ferry Tour, both in May at the Nashville Golf Open and Knoxville Open.
Coming into the first round, Shelton tried to tell himself this tournament was no different from the rest. “I think my sponsor exemptions and stuff, I thought I had to change my game and try to play with the big boys,” Shelton said of playing PGA Tour events earlier in his career. “Now, I just know it’s golf. Been through the Mackenzie Tour and the Korn Ferry Tour, so I know what my game has. And if I can just get to that a lot sooner, that’s the goal.”
But keeping his lead at the Greenbrier might not be the best thing, according to PGA Tour Communications. The account tweeted out that since the inaugural Greenbrier event in 2010, no one who has held the first-, second- or third-round lead or co-lead has gone on to win on Sunday.
Varner also seeks his first PGA Tour victory. Last year when the Greenbrier event was held in July, he shot a 64 in the second round and finished in a tie for fifth.
“I get all these weird jitters before I play the first tournament of the year,” Varner said. “Those are out.”