Washington - Colombia's Sebastian Munoz shot a sizzling
nine-under par 61 on Thursday to upstage early pace-setter Davis Love and seize
the first-round lead at the PGA Tour's Greenbrier Classic.
Munoz, a 24-year-old in search of his first tour title,
finished the day with a two-stroke lead over the 53-year-old Love, who had
seven birdies without a bogey in his seven-under 63.
Munoz climbed swiftly up the leaderboard with four birdies
in a row at the second, third, fourth and fifth holes. He picked up another
stroke at the seventh, and moved within a stroke of early leader Love with a
15-foot birdie putt at the 10th.
A bogey at the par-four 13th proved just a hiccup, as Munoz
responded with birdies at the next four holes.
"Things kind of clicked," Munoz said of finding
his touch on the greens after feeling uncomfortable over the putter in a
practice round on Wednesday. "It was a good surprise."
Munoz, who attended the University of North Texas before
turning pro, and secured his tour card with the help of his victory in the
Web.com tour's Club Colombia Championship, is trying to improve on his previous
best PGA Tour finish - a tie for 27th at the Texas Open.
Love, a 21-time Tour winner, is seeking his first title
since his 2015 Wyndham Championship win made him the third-oldest winner in PGA
He was quick out of the blocks on the Old White TPC course
in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.
Four of Love's birdies came in the first five holes and he
added three more coming in.
"That's about as good as it gets," Love said of a
start that included a birdie from within two feet at the first and an 11-footer
at the second. After parring the third, Love made another birdie from within
two feet at the fourth and rolled in a five-footer at the fifth.
"I hit it stiff at the first hole and had a nice putt
at the second hole and actually had a look at it at the third hole," Love
said. "Four and five I was just rolling it real well and hitting it real
A 30-foot birdie at the 14th gave Love a share of the lead
and he chipped in from in front of the green at 17.
Love, who owns 21 US PGA Tour titles, said he was pleased to
be able to take advantage of ideal scoring conditions on the course that has
been renovated since last year's deadly floods in West Virginia wiped out the
2016 edition of the tournament.
Love's recent form hadn't signalled such a round was coming,
he admitted, as he battled injuries.
"Based on recent scoring average, no," he said.
"Based on good attitude, yeah. I've been working real hard the last couple
of weeks on trying to fix my swing to kind of swing around a stiff back and
Love was one stroke in front of half a dozen players sharing
third place on six-under 64.
The group included New Zealand's Danny Lee, who won the most
recent edition of the tournament in 2015 for his only PGA Tour title to date.
Lee was joined by Americans Ben Martin and Xander
Schauffele, Canadians Nick Taylor and Graham DeLaet and Sweden's David
Leading first-round scores on Thursday in the US PGA Tour Greenbrier Classic at White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia (USA unless noted, par-70):
61 - Sebastian Munoz (COL)
63 - Davis Love
64 - Ben Martin, David Lingmerth (SWE), Graham DeLaet (CAN), Xander Schauffele, Nick Taylor (CAN), Danny Lee (NZL)
65 - Pan Cheng-tsung (TPE), David Hearn (CAN), Hudson Swafford, Robert Streb
66 - Alex Cejka (GER), Patrick Reed, Matt Jones (AUS)
67 - Brian Gay, Kevin Streelman, Scott Stallings, Tag Ridings, Jonathan Randolph, Kelly Kraft, Harold Varner, Hunter Mahan, Phil Mickelson