Despite struggling for form and dealing with a sore knee in recent weeks, Brooks Koepka had no trouble pacing the field in Thursday's opening round of the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational at TPC Southwind in Memphis, Tennessee.
The 30-year-old shot an eight-under 62 to claim a two-stroke lead over Rickie Fowler and Brendon Todd heading into Friday's second round.
Koepka won last year's FedEx St. Jude Invitational and owns two other top-three finishes at TPC Southwind, so it's not a surprise that he's off to a strong start this week.
In his previous three tournaments in July, he missed the cut twice and finished tied for 62nd at the Memorial. With the PGA Championship on the horizon next week, now is the ideal time for the American to return to form.
Here's everything else you need to know heading into Friday's second round.
Round 2 Information
TV: Golf Channel, 1:30-7 p.m. ET
Tee Times: The full list of Friday tee times can be found at PGATour.com.
Brooks Koepka +180 (bet $100 to earn $180)
Justin Thomas +550
Bryson DeChambeau +1100
Rickie Fowler +1200
Brendon Todd +1500
Viktor Hovland +1800
Xander Schauffele +2500
Max Homa +3500
Jon Rahm +4000
Webb Simpson +4000
Dustin Johnson +4000
Abraham Ancer +4000
Matt Kuchar +4000
Chez Reavie +4000
Sungjae Im +4000
Complete list of odds available at Caesars Palace
So, what changed for Koepka in such a short span? Over the past two weeks at the Memorial Tournament and 3M Open, he didn't break 70 once in six rounds. In Thursday's opening round at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, he shot a 62 and had nine birdies.
According to Nick Piastowski of Golf.com, the world No. 6 met with putting coach Phil Kenyon, swing coach Claude Harmon III and short-game coach Pete Cowen in the past week. And during his meeting with Kenyon, they made several adjustments, including to his stance and grip.
"First off, you always know my ball sits off the toe, so that's changed, it's over the center, over the line now," Koepka said, per Piastowski. "My heel is usually off the ground, and it's no longer off the ground. Just the way my left hand kind of works through the putting stroke has become a little bit different."
These adjustments could be coming at the right time for Koepka, who will be looking to win the PGA Championship for the third consecutive year next week. But first, he could also repeat at the FedEx St. Jude Invitational, especially after his impressive opening-round showing.
However, he should have some competition through the weekend. Fowler and Todd are at six under par, while Sung Kang is in fourth place at five under. Then, there are four golfers on four under par, a group that includes Justin Thomas, the No. 3-ranked player in the world.
The 27-year-old opened the first round with a bogey on the first hole but quickly bounced back with two birdies in the next three holes. Then, he finished strong with two birdies in his last three holes to shoot a 66.
Last year, Thomas finished 12th in this tournament, his first time playing at TPC Southwind. None of his four rounds in 2019 were as good as Thursday's, so perhaps a year of experience at the course has helped him fare even better.
Jon Rahm is playing his first tournament as the top-ranked golfer in the world after moving to the top spot with a win at the Memorial Tournament two weeks ago. However, he got off to a slow start Thursday, shooting a 70 that has him tied for 36th at even.
Rahm played better than No. 2-ranked Rory McIlroy, though. The Northern Irishman shot a three-over 73 and will need a bounce-back round to avoid missing the cut.