Shane Lowry and Rory McIlroy find trouble at CJ Cup as Streb strides clear

American cards 11-under par 61 with McIlroy seven off the pace after triple bogey

Rory McIlroy  plays a shot from a bunker on the 13th hole during the first round of The CJ Cup  at The Summit Club  in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photograph: Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

Rory McIlroy plays a shot from a bunker on the 13th hole during the first round of The CJ Cup at The Summit Club in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photograph: Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

 

It’s never a good sign when you’re forced to look to your caddie for another ball, which is a fate that befell Shane Lowry not once but twice in his opening round of the megabucks, limited field CJ Cup tournament at The Summit in Las Vegas in asking bagman Bo Martin to dip into his Srixon tour bag for extra supplies.

For Lowry, it proved to be an opening round with little or no luck; yet, as if to remind us that golf is a sport full of surprises, American Robert Streb – ranked 141th in the world and without even a top-10 finish since he lifted the RSM Classic, his second PGA Tour title, last November – somehow conjured up a magical round of 61.

On the Tom Fazio design sculpted out of the desert but close to the strip of casinos and hotels that occupy Nevada’s gambling landscape, 34-year-old Streb produced a stunning round that saw him record an eagle – on the third – along with 10 birdies and a lone bogey on the 11th. Streb, indeed, was seven under through six holes in an astonishingly fast start that propelled him to the top of the leaderboard.

Lowry’s woes came quick, barely into his round: on the par-three second he missed the green with his tee shot, pitched to seven feet and failed to hole the putt; then, on the par-five third, a wild drive down the right was followed by one poor shot after another, ultimately reaching the green with his fifth shot and holing a four-footer for bogey.

There would be birdies on the fifth, from seven feet, and the sixth, where he hit a wonderful wedge approach to two feet, to get back to level par before those penalty shots came on the ninth, where he hit his approach into a rocky area, and the 11th where his tee shot found a water hazard. He recovered one of those dropped shots with a six-footer for birdie on the 14th. Lowry finished with four straight pars to sign for a one-over-par 73, all of 12 shots behind Streb.

Rory McIlroy, playing for the first time since a disappointing Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits last month, was the first player to record an eagle on the par-five 14th as he moved to five under par on his card and he added a further birdie on the 15th to move to six under.

But a triple-bogey seven undid all that good work with a closing birdie on the par-five 18th seeing him sign for a four-under 68.

Rory McIlroy plays a shot from a bunker on the 13th hole during the first round of The CJ Cup at The Summit Club in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photograph: Alex Goodlett/Getty Images
Rory McIlroy plays a shot from a bunker on the 13th hole during the first round of The CJ Cup at The Summit Club in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photograph: Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

Streb – a two-time winner on the PGA Tour, his first success coming back in 2014 in the McGladrey Classic and a second 11 months ago in the RSM Classic – has struggled for most of the year but somehow rediscovered his form with a quite stunning round of 61 that gave him a one-stroke clubhouse lead over Keith Mitchell, who carded 10 birdies in his first round of 62.

Hudson Swafford carded a 65 with Aaron Wise, Jhonattan Vegas, Cameron Smith, Hideki Matsuyama, Scottie Scheffler and Ian Poulter a shot further back after 66s.

“I think you really need to get off to a good start, I think that’s pretty key around here. The first seven or eight holes are pretty gettable, I believe, and then after that it gets pretty tricky, especially with the wind and the altitude. It started to get pretty hot there at the end and the ball started travelling a little bit further and the wind started switching up a little bit, so it was quite tricky,” explained Smith.

Certainly, Streb got off to a sensational flying start: birdie-birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie-birdie to be seven under through his opening six holes. “I was trying to stay in the moment as best I can and, I don’t know, you just feel like you can start aiming at stuff. Things seemed to be going my way,” explained Streb, adding: “[You try to] stay in the moment and kind of stick to what you’re doing. Obviously guys are going to shoot some low ones here this week, so just try a plug along and see where I’m at at the end of the week.”

First round scores from the CJ Cup (USA unless stated, Par 72)

61 Robert Streb

62 Keith Mitchell

64 Harry Higgs

65 Sergio Garcia (Spa), Viktor Hovland (Nor), Hudson Swafford

66 Rickie Fowler, Hideki Matsuyama (Jpn), Ian Poulter (Eng), Scottie Scheffler, Cameron Smith (Aus), Jordan Spieth, Jhonattan Vegas (Ven), Aaron Wise

67 Sam Burns, Talor Gooch, Brian Harman, Tyrrell Hatton (Eng), Max Homa, Brooks Koepka, Kyoung-Hoon Lee (Kor), Collin Morikawa, Joaquin Niemann (Chi), Erik van Rooyen (Rsa), Harold Varner III

68 Paul Casey (Eng), Cameron Davis (Aus), Tony Finau, Tommy Fleetwood (Eng), Russell Henley, Sung Jae Im (Kor), Joo-Hyung Kim (Kor), Seong-Hyeon Kim (Kor), Chris Kirk, Rory McIlroy (NIrl), Kevin Na, Adam Scott (Aus), Gary Woodland

69 Stewart Cink, Lucas Glover, Rasmus Hoejgaard (Den), Min-Kyu Kim (Kor), Jae-Kyeong Lee (Kor), Maverick McNealy, Sebastian Munoz (Col), Xander Schauffele, Webb Simpson, Justin Thomas

70 Byeong-Hun An (Kor), Abraham Ancer (Mex), Keegan Bradley, Matt Jones (Aus), Kevin Kisner, Marc Leishman (Aus), Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa)

71 Tom Hoge, Mackenzie Hughes (Can), Sung-Hoon Kang (Kor), Si Woo Kim (Kor), Patton Kizzire, Carlos Ortiz (Mex), Patrick Reed, Sang-Hun Shin (Kor), Cameron Tringale

72 Branden Grace (Rsa), Emiliano Grillo (Arg), Charley Hoffman, Alexander Noren (Swe), Charl Schwartzel (Rsa)

73 Jason Day (Aus), Harris English, Shane Lowry (Irl)

74 Dustin Johnson, Han-Byeol Kim (Kor), Yo-Seop Seo (Kor)

75 Justin Rose (Eng), Kevin Streelman

77 Jason Kokrak

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