AT&T National 2013: Day 1 Leaderboard Analysis, Highlights and More
Roberto Castro caught fire on his back nine to surge into sole possession of the lead after the first round at the AT&T National at Congressional Country Club.
Castro finished the day with a five-under 66 to hold a two-shot lead over a handful of golfers on this difficult course, which was home to the 2011 U.S. Open.
Castro, who is searching for his maiden win on the PGA Tour and just his second top-10 finish, had a splendid day on the course. The PGA Tour passed along this quote:
Charlie Beljan, who fired an opening-round 84, may not share the same sentiment. The other guys on the leaderboard, however, are far more apt to be in agreement.
AT&T National 2013 Round 1 Leaderboard
Castro began his day on the back side, and he got off to a pedestrian start. He bogeyed No. 11 to sit at one-over. He would not pick up another bogey on the day, and he birdied his next two holes.
The 28-year-old finished the back nine with a string of pars to finish the side at one under. He added another birdie on No. 1 and then caught fire at No. 5.
He carded three straight birdies beginning on the par-four fifth. That stretch pushed him into the lead, and it showcased his streaking short game with this chip on the par-three seventh:
It was his short game that led to most of Castro's success. He only hit 61 percent of his greens in regulation on the day, but he finished with a strokes gained-putting mark of 4.895.
The Golf Channel's Jason Sobel knew that Castro had to be pleased with this round:
Roberto Castro opens with 5-under 66. He also writes for the blog All Things That Are Good. Opening with a 66 is one of those things.— Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelGC) June 27, 2013
While stranger things have happened in golf, it is unlikely Castro can hold onto this lead.
There was little to suggest Castro would light Congressional on fire. He has yet to card a top-10 finish this PGA year. Also, he was 29th here last year after failing to card a single round in the 60s.
Combine that with the fact that, for the year, Castro is 181st in strokes gained-putting, and it becomes clear that it is extremely unlikely he can continue this level of play.
Checking in Down Under
One of the day's highlighted groups featured a trio of talented Australians. With Reigning Masters champ Adam Scott, the talented Jason Day and Marc Leishman, who is having a wonderful year, this group had an excellent shot of containing the winner of this event.
Those chances have diminished after the first day. Scott shot a two-over 73, and Leishman suffered a four-over 75.
However, Day is still in a good position to represent this group with a win. He fired a one-under 70. Were it not for a few bad breaks, Day's score would have been even lower.
He picked up three bogeys on the day, but he's striking the ball well enough to go lower. Check out this masterful 146-yard approach shot on the par-fourth 12th:
It wasn't just his approach game that was working, either. The PGA Tour tweeted this nice putt:
I expect Day to be a factor throughout this tournament.
Contenders to Watch
Horschel is having a breakout year of the highest order. He's already picked up the first PGA win of his career, and his last time out, he had an impressive fourth-place finish at the U.S. Open.
Starting on the back nine, Horschel birdied three of his first four holes. He played the rest of his 18 at even par to finish with a three-under 68 to walk off the course with a share of the lead.
Even though Castro passed him, Horschel is in great position for the final three rounds. PGATour.com's Brian Wacker makes a great point about Congressional and Horschel:
It would not be shocking to see Horschel pick up his second PGA win this week.
At the beginning of the year, there was not another golfer on the planet as hot as Brandt Snedeker. Then, problems with his troublesome ribs forced him from action, and he's been inconsistent upon his return.
Now, he's had time to find his groove once again, and he's began taking medicine to help with his rib problems.
Snedeker opened up with a two-under 69, and he was solid all day. This course sets up well for Snedeker's game, and he is striking the ball well.
Also, even when he isn't striking the ball well, he can atone for it with his brilliant putting stroke, like he did on the par-five ninth with this 54-foot birdie effort:
The final leaderboard is bound to look vastly different than the one following the opening round, but Snedeker should make himself a permanent fixture on that board this week.
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