Wells Fargo Championship 2018: John Peterson Holds 2-Stroke Lead After Round 1

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMay 3, 2018

SAN ANTONIO, TX - APRIL 19:  John Peterson plays his shot from the fifth tee during the first round of the Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio AT&T Oaks Course on April 19, 2018 in San Antonio, Texas.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Michael Reaves/Getty Images

John Peterson sits in first place Thursday at the Wells Fargo Championship with one round in the books at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina. 

Peterson finished at six under for the round and holds a two-shot lead over Peter Malnati, Tyrrell Hatton, Johnson Wagner, Keith Mitchell and Kyle Stanley.

Tiger Woods is competing in his first tournament since tying for 32nd at the 2018 Masters. After going even par for the day, Woods owns a share of 34th.

Although Peterson was three under before making the turn, his big move up the leaderboard came as he was wrapping up his round. He posted back-to-back eagles on the seventh and eighth holes.

Peterson was one of two golfers with consecutive eagles in the opening round, joining Wagner for a feat that hasn't been achieved in nearly a decade, per Golf Channel researcher Justin Ray:

Justin Ray @JustinRayGC

Both Johnson Wagner and John Peterson recorded consecutive eagles today at Quail Hollow. It's the 1st time there have been multiple instances of players recording back-to-back eagles in the same PGA Tour round since Sunday at the 2009 Buick Open (Jason Day, Brian Vranesh).

Peterson is an unlikely leader. He's the No. 776 golfer in the World Golf Ranking, and he has just 10 top-10 finishes in 117 events. The 29-year-old has yet to win a tournament, and his most recent finish was in 2014 at the Chiquita Classic on the Web.com Tour.

GolfChannel.com's Ryan Lavner highlighted how Peterson has more invested in this event than almost anybody else involved:

Ryan Lavner @RyanLavnerGC

Quail Hollow leader @JohnPetersonFW might be my favorite story in golf right now. Former NCAA champ has 3 starts left to earn another $300K. If not, he’s retiring—already has a gig lined up in commercial real estate.

Perhaps that explains why everything was clicking for Peterson on Thursday, especially with regard to his approach game.

According to the PGA Tour's official site, he reached 14 greens in regulation and was 3-of-3 on sand saves. For his eagle on No. 7, Peterson holed out from a bunker to the left of the green on his third shot. He then found the bottom of the cup from 103 yards out on his second shot on No. 8.

"Not often do you go almost 30 minutes without having to putt," Peterson said, per PGA Tour Media.

Holding onto his lead over the remaining three days won't be easy for Peterson. In addition to the five golfers tied for second, another 10 three shots back in a tie for seventh. Four-time major champion Rory McIlroy and 2013 PGA Championship winner Jason Dufner are among those who shot three under on Thursday.

Peterson and the golfers in title contention shouldn't have to worry too much about Woods, though. Sean Martin of the PGA Tour.com noted how much Woods struggled on the green:

Sean Martin @PGATOURSMartin

Tiger Woods' Strokes Gained: Putting on Thursday: -1.29. 124th in the 156-man field.

Although Woods remains a ways off first place, Peterson's underdog story gives fans a great reason to follow Friday's second-round action in Charlotte.


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