Englishman Ian Poulter and American Mark Hubbard have set the pace for good scoring on the first day of the US PGA Tour‘s RBC Heritage at South Carolina with New Zealand’s Danny Lee only four shots from the lead.
Poulter, 44, holed a 30-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole and finished with a 5-iron to 4 feet for another birdie that capped a 7-under 64, a round without a bogey but not without flaws.
Hubbard, 31, kept his 64 together with two par putts at the end notching a career-best 21 putts en route to tying a career-low 18-hole score
They have a one-shot lead over Viktor Hovland, Sebastian Munoz and Michael Thompson among the early starters.
Danny Lee birdied the first two holes of the round and finished the round with 6 birdies and 3 bogeys for a 3-under 68 and tie for 28th place.
Rory McIlroy was among those who struggled, and only a pair of birdies on the back nine kept it from being worse. He opened with a 72. That ended a streak of seven straight tournaments in which he broke par in the opening round dating to the ZOZO Championship in Japan last October.
He kept it entertaining. On the par-5 15th, he tried to hit a slice from behind a tree and carry it over more oaks from 275 yards away. It didn’t come off right, leaving him blocked by the trees, so he tried to hook the next one around the trees. That got caught up in the shaggy collar of a bunker, and he made bogey.
“I’m sort of missing my 3-wood left and missing my driver right,” McIlroy said.
“If you’re in any way like in two minds what to do off the tees around here and get a little bit sort of guidey, it can bite you.”
Brooks Koepka was among those at 67, while the 50-and-older gang more than held its own. Ernie Els was tied for the lead at one point before settling for a 67. Bernhard Langer, the 61-year-old Masters champion, and Jim Furyk each had 69.
Playing the Hilton Head course for the first time, Viktor Hovland said he felt fresh and had a solid day.
“I got off to a nice start,” Hovland said.
“I think I was 3 under through five or six holes and made a really bad bogey on 16 and three-putted on 17 and kind of lost some of that momentum. But started on the back nine making three birdies in a row and just kind of hitting a lot of greens and gave myself a lot of good looks.”
The RBC Heritage continues tomorrow.