Defending champion Brooks Koepka flew out of the blocks, while others were just a whisker away from making a hole-in-one as the 2020 WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational began on Thursday.
Here is everything you need to know from the opening day at TPC Southwind.
Brooks' birdie blitz
Four time Major Champion Koepka has been hampered by a painful knee injury since recording his stunning three shot victory here last year but he showed no signs of that affecting him on Thursday as he went birdie-birdie-birdie-birdie from the first to get off to the perfect start. He really was not kidding when he said on Wednesday that he thought an upturn in fortunes was just around the corner! He showed that his bogey on the seventh was nothing but a blip as he picked up five more shots to open up a two stroke lead.
Cabrera Bello peppering the pin
We saw some good tee shots at the par threes today but none of them were closer to going in than Spaniard Rafa Cabrera Bello's on the eighth. His effort landed no more than two inches from the cup before finishing up a couple of feet from the pin. He rolled in for a birdie two but it could have been that bit better had luck been on his side.
Solid debut for Hovland
Norwegian rising star Viktor Hovland is making his first ever World Golf Championships appearance this week but you could be forgiven for thinking he had done this all before if you saw his assured first round performance. He entered the red numbers with a birdie at the long third before getting another on the par three eighth after almost holing his tee shot. He safely parred his way to the 13th, where a third birdie took him to three under. He dropped his only shot of the day on the 17th but got it back at the last to finish just five behind leader Koepka.
Birthday birdies boost McDowell
Graeme McDowell turned 41 on Thursday but it looked like his birthday might not be a very happy one when he was one over par after 14 holes. But he finished with a flourish, making three birdies in a row at the sixth, seventh and eighth to jump to two under.
Rahm's birdies making a difference
It is not just the players who will be benefiting from low scores this week. Just as he did at this event last year, new World Number One Jon Rahm has pledged to give money to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital for every birdie and eagle he makes this week. He has vowed to donate $1,000 for a birdie and $5,000 for an eagle, with his total already standing at $4,000 after he fired four birdies in Thursday's opening effort of 70.
Let’s make an impact for the kids! Like last year, I will be donating $1,000 for every birdie and $5,000 for every 🦅 to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital— Jon Rahm Rodriguez (@JonRahmpga) July 29, 2020
To join my team and make a donation, please join here! https://t.co/cyxrbH89pi pic.twitter.com/0my4PHVfIb