Nate Lashley paced the Rocket Mortgage Classic field with a nine-under 63 at Detroit Golf Club on Thursday to take an early lead heading into the second round.
A total of 130 of the tournament's 156 players shot even par or better, with the cut line sitting at three under. Per the PGA Tour, a season high for birdies was also reached:
The game's bigger names mostly fared well. Of note, Rickie Fowler, Bubba Watson and Hideki Matsuyama each shot four under. On the flip side, Dustin Johnson struggled to a one-under 71, and U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland shot a one-over 73.
Here's a look at the top-10 scoreboard and some of the day's highlights.
1. Nate Lashley: -9
T2. Ryan Armour: -8
T2. Nick Watney: -8
T4. Charles Howell III: -7
T4. Talor Gooch: -7
T4. Chez Reavie: -7
T4. Stewart Cink: -7
T4. Rory Sabbatini: -7
T4. Adam Schenk: -7
T4. Chase Wright: -7
Nate Lashley Scorches Back Nine
The day was going along quite well for Lashley through 12 holes, as he earned a bogey-free four under heading into the par-four 13th.
At that point, Lashley kicked it to an extra gear, birdieing five of the final six to finish as the first-round leader.
Excellent drives and approaches on the 13th and 14th holes led to fairly easy birdies. After parring the 15th, Lashley's flat stick caught fire as he knocked home putts from 14'4", 8'11" and 8'7" to finish his day. An excellent approach on the last helped him end Thursday strong:
Lashley earned a 71.43 percent driving accuracy rate and hit 72.22 percent of greens in regulation. He also earned 4.363 strokes gained from putting.
Remarkably, Lashley was a tournament alternate and a late addition to the field, per Jim McCabe of PGATour.com. He's also never held a solo lead in a tournament before and hasn't finished higher than 28th in his past eight competitions.
Lashley, who only needed 23 putts Thursday, explained why he had success.
"I got it under the hole on most holes," Lashley remarked, "and had a lot of uphill putts with not a lot of break."
Lashley was sensational, but the problem is the Detroit Golf Club looks like the home to the easiest tournament of the year right now. Ten players finished seven under or better, so Lashley needs that putter to stay hot for him to keep the rest of the field at bay. That may not be too much of a problem if Thursday is any indication.
Best of the Rest
Ted Potter Jr., who cruised to a bogey-free four-under 68, had little issue with the Detroit Golf Club greens, as evidenced by this 50-footer to start his day on the 10th:
Fowler didn't need his putter on the par-five 17th thanks to jarring this 122-yard eagle:
Fowler shot four under on the four par-five holes.
Kevin Kisner "only" shot two under on the par fives but dominated everywhere else in his six-under round. His putter was hot all day, like when he sunk this 32'4" putt on the first:
Kisner shot seven under through his first 12 holes.
Like Kisner and others, Charles Howell III dominated all day and even sunk two eagles on the par-five seventh and par-five 14th:
Howell finished the day at seven under, and the same went for Chez Reavie, whose stellar approach from 272 yards away on the par-five 17th led to this 21-footer off the fringe:
Reavie is one to watch this week, as he finished third in the U.S. Open and first at the Travelers Championship in his past two events.
All stats via PGATour.com.