PGA Tour

Storming 61 lifts Munoz past Love into lead

2017-07-07 06:41
Sebastian Munoz (Getty)

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 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 Tour history. 

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 well."

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 stiff hip." 

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 Lingmerth.

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

Read more on:    davis love  |  golf


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