Wyndham Clark takes Phoenix lead with best score of PGA Tour career

Jordan Spieth and defending champion Rickie Fowler both struggled

Wyndham Clark during the first round of the Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale. Photograph: Getty Images

Wyndham Clark during the first round of the Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale. Photograph: Getty Images

 

Wyndham Clark shot the best score of his PGA Tour career, a 10-under-par 61, to take the first-round lead at the Phoenix Open in Arizona on Thursday.

The second-year player, who lowered his previous best round on the Tour by three shots, had a two-stroke lead over fellow American Billy Horschel while JB Holmes, boosted by a hole-in-one from 175 yards at the fourth, was next on 64.

Former world number one Jordan Spieth and defending champion Rickie Fowler both battled to three-over 74s.

Clark’s stellar round came on the heels of three straight missed cuts during which he chipped and putted poorly.

“I actually played really good the last couple of weeks. I just wasn’t capitalising,” the 26-year-old told Golf Channel.

“I had a great front nine, felt really good off the tee, gave myself a lot of (birdie) looks and the putter was hot.

“Then it got kind of fun. It was one of those rounds where everything went right.”

Horschel was also pleased to find some form and was quick to credit instructor Todd Anderson with turning things around this week by identifying a couple of small technical flaws in his full swing and putting.

“To come out and put up duds the first two weeks was a really big gut-shock, especially after I shot that 80 last week,” said the five-times PGA Tour winner Horschel, who rolled in two putts from outside 40 feet, including a 45-footer for an unlikely par at the last.

“Throughout my history, once I get on a little run, especially with the putter, I feel like I can make anything from anywhere on the green,” he said.

“I see the line real easily. Once I get that run of seeing putts going in, the hole looks massive and I see this perfect track going and all I have to do is make sure I hit the ball the right speed.”

While Clark and Horschel enjoyed themselves at the most raucous stop on the Tour, gallery favourites Fowler and Spieth did not join the party.

Fowler had seven bogeys while Spieth started poorly with two dropped shots and could not right the ship.

Three-times major champion Spieth has fallen outside the top 50 in the rankings for the first time since 2013. He is currently ranked 51st.

First round scores in the USPGA Phoenix Open (play suspended due to darkness with one player left to finish their round) - USA unless stated, par 71:

61 Wyndham Clark

63 Billy Horschel

64 JB Holmes

65 Bud Cauley, Byeong-Hun An (Kor), Harris English, Tom Hoge

66 Hudson Swafford, Adam Long, Kyung Ju Choi (Kor), Nate Lashley, Sungjae Im (Kor)

67 Hideki Matsuyama (Jpn), Zach Johnson, Xander Schauffele, Sung Kang (Kor), Brandon Hagy, Branden Grace (Rsa), Scott Piercy, Keegan Bradley, Jon Rahm (Spa), Patrick Rodgers

68 Beau Hossler, Matt Kuchar, Kevin Streelman, Danny Lee (Nzl), Aaron Baddeley (Aus), Justin Thomas, Talor Gooch, Keith Mitchell

69 Mark Hubbard, Andrew Landry, Adam Hadwin (Can), Daniel Berger, Tony Finau, Doc Redman, Xinjun Zhang (Chn), Jimmy Walker, Peter Malnati, Bubba Watson, Kevin Chappell, Kevin Na, Sam Burns, Cheng-Tsung Pan (Tai), Collin Morikawa, James Hahn

70 Adam Schenk, Viktor Hovland (Nor), Aaron Wise, Colt Knost, Gary Woodland, Grayson Murray, Bryson DeChambeau, Sebastian Munoz (Col), JJ Spaun, Nick Taylor (Can), JT Poston, Luke List, Joel Dahmen, Trey Mullinax, Sebastian Cappelen (Den), Scottie Scheffler, Harry Higgs, Patton Kizzire, Kyle Westmoreland

71 Carlos Ortiz (Mex), Charley Hoffman, Harold Varner III, Ryan Palmer, Webb Simpson, Russell Henley, Corey Conners (Can), Sam Ryder, Kyle Stanley, Kyoung-hoon Lee (Kor), Brian Harman, Brendan Steele, Denny McCarthy, Ted Potter Jr, Ryan Armour, John Huh, Russell Knox (Sco), Troy Merritt, Dylan Frittelli (Rsa)

72 Brian Stuard, Lucas Bjerregaard (Den), Andrew Putnam, Chris Stroud, Brian Gay, Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Tha), Max Homa, Martin Laird (Sco), Kevin Tway, Tyler Duncan, Brice Garnett, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Moore

73 Matthew Wolff, Satoshi Kodaira (Jpn), Rory Sabbatini (Svk), Jason Kokrak, Roger Sloan (Can), Charl Schwartzel (Rsa), Robby Shelton, Chesson Hadley, Chez Reavie, Emiliano Grillo (Arg), Alex Smalley, Luke Donald (Eng)

74 Sepp Straka (Aut), Matt Jones (Aus), Austin Cook, Zack Sucher, Patrick Flavin, Lanto Griffin, Jamie Lovemark, Mackenzie Hughes (Can), Rickie Fowler, Cameron Tringale, Jordan Spieth

75 Greg Chalmers (Aus)

76 Cameron Smith (Aus), Scott Harrington, Bol Van Pelt, Matt Every, Si Woo Kim (Kor)

77 Marty Jertson, Chris Kirk, Vaughn Taylor

78 Kevin Stadler, Martin Trainer

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