• 41°

Lashley shoots 63 to take Rocket Mortgage Classic lead

By Larry Lage

AP Sports Writer

DETROIT (AP) — Nate Lashley tried and failed to qualify for a spot in the Rocket Mortgage Classic earlier this week.

He chose to stay in Detroit, hoping to slip into the field as an alternate.

Good call.

Lashley birdied the final three holes and five of the last six for a 9-under 63 and the first-round lead Thursday at the PGA Tour’s first event in Detroit.

The 36-year-old Lashley had the lowest score in his PGA Tour career, a day after finding out he would have a chance to compete at Detroit Golf Club. Ranked 353rd in the world and No. 132 in the FedEx Cup standings, Lashley’s only top-10 finish in his two-year PGA Tour career is a tie for eighth in the Puerto Rico Open in February.

“Hopefully, can play well this week and continue to play well and lock up my card,” he said.

Ryan Armour and Nick Watney were at stroke back at 64. Chez Reavie , the Travelers Championship winner last week in Connecticut, and Charles Howell III and Stewart Cink topped the group of seven players at 65.

Dustin Johnson, the second-ranked player in the world, opened with a 71. Gary Woodland had a 73 in his first start since winning the U.S. Open, an accomplishment that altered his career and schedule.

“I definitely didn’t get prepared as much as I like to, but that’s no excuse,” Woodland said.

Lashley made the most of the opportunity with a bogey-free round, taking advantage of scoring opportunities during a day with little wind on a short course with receptive greens. He opened with a birdie and had three more on the front nine before the closing spree.

Lashley, who is from Nebraska, had a knee injury last year that stunted his rookie season on the PGA Tour after 17 events.

“I’m just trying to play relaxed and confident golf,” he said.

There’s no chance Lashley can afford to be comfortable with the early lead.

Johnson provided proof the Donald Ross-designed course can present a challenge. The only top-10 player in the field ranked in the middle of the pack off the tee, missing five of 14 fairways. He was among the worst on approach shots, leaving him 33-plus feet away from the pin on average.

Johnson missed the green to the left on the 175-yard, par-3 fifth and his ball bounced into a bunker, forcing him to stand in the rough while squatting to get the ball out of the sand.

“It ended up in a terrible spot,” he said.

Four shots later, Johnson had his first of two double bogeys. He was 2 over at No. 11 before rallying with three birdies over the last five holes.

“I think come out (Friday) morning and shooting a good score, I’ll be back in the tournament,” he said after finishing the first round tied for 101st.

Woodland was strong late in the first round after failing to maintain any momentum from winning the first major of his career. He tied a U.S. Open record by making just four bogeys over four rounds at Pebble Beach and had that many bogeys in a four-hole stretch at Detroit Golf Club and a total of six. After falling to 5 over through 11 holes, he had four birdies over the last six to finish with a 73.

Reavie, meanwhile, picked up where he left off after winning for his first win in 11 years. He had a 4-under 32 on the front nine and was 3 under on the back, including an eagle on the 582-yard, par-5 17th.

“I’m entering the week as if I didn’t win last week,” Reavie said. “I’m out here grinding as I do every week and looking forward to the challenge. I like old-school golf courses. I like being able to work it off slopes on the greens.”

Comments

Crime

Blotter: Man faces drug charges after being reported as ‘suspicious’

News

Duke Energy, NC officials announce coal ash expense deal

Local

Police, firefighters parade for hospital staff

Coronavirus

Demand continues to exceed supply as county shifts to vaccine appointments

Local

‘Uncommonly good man:’ Local appraiser Scott Robinson dies after fall at home

News

Rowan Planning Board settles on screening requirements for solar farms

News

Transition to mass vaccination sites irks NC health systems

Crime

Mississippi sheriff: One dead after Salisbury children left in woods; father sought

Crime

Man faces misdemeanor child abuse charges

Crime

Two charged with breaking into building on South Main Street, drug possession

Coronavirus

Nina Oliver: County will move to appointments for vaccines

News

Political Notebook: North Carolina lawmakers say they look forward to working with Biden

Ask Us

Ask Us: How will county administer second doses of vaccine?

News

White House begins talks with lawmakers on COVID-19 relief

Coronavirus

81 new COVID-19 cases reported Sunday as county hints at appointment model

Crime

Blotter: Salisbury man charged with shooting at police, robbing Goodwill in December

News

During early mornings and weekends, F&M Bank handled hundreds of Paycheck Protection Program loans

Coronavirus

Salisbury VA uses appointment model for COVID-19 vaccinations, tops 3,300 doses

Local

Response remains mixed as city continues gathering public input on downtown street plan

Education

Community offers support for, memories of Knox teacher Beaver

Business

Loan program for women, minority entrepreneurs expected to launch in spring

Entertainment

Symphony offers virtual performance of ‘Resounding Romance’ Feb. 12-14

Local

Pops at the Post scheduled for Sept. 11

Education

Kannapolis City Schools searching for an architect to explore A.L. Brown expansion