Matt Every had entered 25 tournaments in 2017 heading into the 2017 Wyndham Championship. He'd been cut 16 times and finished no better than a tie for 14th.
Every's 26th tournament is shaping up to be his best.
The 33-year-old fired off a nine-under 61 in Thursday's opening round at Sedgefield Country Club, giving him a one-stroke lead over Henrik Stenson. A group of seven golfers, including Webb Simpson, are tied for third at seven under.
Every, a two-time PGA winner, has spent most of the last two years on tour struggling to keep his head above water. He went through a stretch of 18 straight tournaments where he missed the cut or withdrew between 2016 and 2017, and famously had major issues with his driver.
"The last couple years a lot of people would have quit the game in my position with what has kind of crept into my game," Every said after the round, per Kevin Casey of Golf Week. "I have a high regard for my talent. Like I know I'm as talented as anyone out here. Maybe like five guys are a little more talented than me."
From the opening hole, it was pretty apparent Every would have a special round. He holed out from 105 yards out on the par-four first for eagle and then ran off three straight birdies from Nos. 3 through 5. Another birdie on the par-three seventh allowed him to make the turn at 29, and he added three more birdies on the back nine to get to nine under.
Every finished the day missing just one green in regulation and can thank a series of stellar approaches for his low score. The hole-out on No. 1 notwithstanding, all of Every's birdie conversions came from shots that got him within 15 feet of the cup.
"I will say this: My good stuff right now is so much better than my good stuff two years ago," Every told reporters. "I can hit big golf shots now, and it's fun. It keeps me coming back."
Stenson, who went through his own set of struggles in the spring, was back in the fine form he's shown over the last month. Like Every, he did not bogey once during his first round and drained eight birdies. Stenson's brilliance came in large part on the green, where he hit three birdie putts outside 20 feet and gained nearly four strokes.
"I guess my game is in slightly better shape than it has been some of the other times when I've shown up here," Stenson told reporters. "Couple of the times where I've been here I haven't been playing well at all. Certainly I felt like I would have a better chance this year to do myself justice on here, and I certainly got off to a good start."
Of the 156 players who entered the tournament, 116 shot par or better Thursday. Relatively easy pin placement and excellent weather allowed players to go low early in the morning, though the course did get a little more difficult to navigate for afternoon rounds.
Kevin Kisner, the highest-ranked player in the field in FedEx Cup standings (No. 9), currently sits below the cut line after shooting a one-under 69. He recorded just three birdies on the day and bogeyed twice, including on No. 18.
Davis Love III, who would become the oldest winner in PGA Tour history at 53, sits in a tie for 10th at six under. Love won the 2015 Wyndham Championship at age 51.