Colombia’s Sebastian Munoz stormed to a share of the first-round lead at the US PGA Tour John Deere Classic on Thursday with birdies at his final five holes.
Munoz, who claimed his lone PGA Tour title in 2019, saw the putts dropping late to make the most of a solid day at Deere Run in Silvis, Illinois, where he was tied atop the leaderboard with American Chesson Hadley on eight-under par 63.
“Hit the ball really good all day,” said Munoz, who had nine birdies overall. “I got hot with the putter coming in. I wasn’t making a lot on the front nine, so it was nice to see them go in on the back.”
Hadley had eight birdies without a bogey. The leading duo were one stroke in front of Colombia’s Camilo Villegas and Americans Chez Reavie and Hank Lebioda.
Villegas and Reavie set the early pace with bogey-free 64s. Lebioda was tied for the lead at eight-under through 17 holes but bogeyed his final hole, the ninth, to fall one back.
Munoz was two-under on the front nine after three birdies and a three-putt bogey at the eighth. After a birdie at 11 he well and truly caught fire with a birdie at 14.
After two more birdies he was in the left rough at the 17th and had to chip out.
“Then it was kind of like a tricky shot, like 105-yard wedge shot into the wind, and that pin is kind of dangerous,” Munoz said. “I kind of took the safe route to the left, gave myself a 15-footer, made it.
“On 18,” he said, “it was a really nice drive, gave myself a sand wedge, and just went to keep it somewhere to the right of the hole, I knew everything was going to feed, so that’s what I did, 12-footer and right down the middle.”
Hadley opened his round with a short birdie at the 10th and after birdies at 14 and 17 rolled in a 24-footer at 18 to make the turn at four-under. His four birdies coming in included a 23-footer at the eighth for his share of the lead.
“It was great,” he said of the round. “I was comfortable early and was able to get out of the gates with a birdie. Hit some really nice shots kind of right off the bat and then I saw a couple putts come off the way I wanted it to, and it was just kind of all clicking today, which was great.”
The day ended in disappointing style for Munoz playing partner Kim Si-woo of South Korea, who withdrew with a back injury after hitting his tee shot on the ninth hole in what was expected to be his final start before the Tokyo Olympics.
Kim, who claimed his third PGA Tour title in January, was seven-over for the round and six-over in his last four holes when he called it quits.
Kim and compatriot Im Sung-jae had already withdrawn from next week’s British Open to prepare for the Tokyo Games.
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