Daily Wrap-up: Valero Texas Open, Round 1April 19, 2012
Staff and wire reports
SAN ANTONIO -- Matt Every arrived at the Valero Texas Open having sworn off instructors, proudly cutting practices short and cringing at the sight of other players endlessly tweaking their swings.
His reward was a course record at a PGA TOUR stop.
Outshining the few big PGA TOUR names in a weakened field, Every made nine birdies in a bogey-free 9-under 63 for a three-stroke lead over Hunter Haas after the first round Thursday.
It was a career best on a notoriously unforgiving TPC San Antonio course that opened in 2010, but is partly blamed for why the tournament doesn't attract more star power.
"I see the same guys tinkering with their swings, and they spend all day Tuesday and Wednesday practicing, and I think, 'God, I'm glad I'm not one of these guys,'" Every said. "And I'm sticking to that. When I get on the course, I'm more interested in playing golf than my golf swing."
Every, whose best finish in six years on the TOUR is third, coasted to his first lead since sharing the top spot entering the final round of the Sony Open in January. His wife, who is seven months pregnant, followed him for the entirety of a the record that broke the course mark of 64 set by Ryan Palmer and Scott Piercy in 2010.
"Told her, only wanted her to go to nine today," Every said. "Said she had to keep going after the front nine. It's cool."
Projected points The race for spots in the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup continues this week. Click to see who's making moves. Projections
Haas finished with one of the round's three eagles on the par-5 18th. Former British Open champion Ben Curtis, playing in his fourth PGA TOUR event of the season after his status on the entry list plummeted near the bottom, was fourth strokes back at 67.
Haas shot a bogey-free round capped by a brilliant approach on No. 18, driving a 3-wood from the fairway to 5 feet. He has struggled this season, missing the cut six times and finishing no better than a tie for 37th in Mexico at the Mayakoba Golf Classic.
"It's nice to finish a round like that. It's been a while," Haas said.
Matt Kuchar, the tournament's top-ranked player at No. 15 and two weeks removed form his near miss at the Masters, closed with a bogey on the par-4 ninth for a 70. Johnson Wagner had a 74 after speaking optimistically about taking advantage of the absence of star players in the field.
Shot of the Day
Jordan Spieth holes a birdie chip shot on the par-5 18th hole.
Defending champion Brendan Steele had a 73. He made a double bogey on the par-4 fourth.
The other star of last year's Valero Texas Open didn't even make it past the first round. Kevin Na, who returned to San Antonio poking fun at his memorable 16 on No. 9, tapped in a 6-footer for par this time, but withdrew after signing his card at 7 over.
Every was more at ease with his front-runner status than the last time in Honolulu. There he looked uncomfortable while being asked about his arrest on a misdemeanor marijuana possession charge in 2010 that resulted in a PGA TOUR suspension his rookie season. He also attributed a tough night of sleep there to what he described as his first real time in contention.
After his round Thursday, a PGA TOUR spokesman cautioned reporters that Every sometimes doesn't ease into interviews as easily as other players. But the 28-year-old former Florida star was candid and carefree while discussing his love for the band Oasis and naming his first son Liam.
He only casually mentioned ditching his swing instructor two weeks ago and that he "doesn't care anymore" whether his feet or toes lift off the ground when he swings.
TPC San Antonio: Round 1 EASIEST HOLE TOUGHEST HOLE The par-5 14th hole was the easiest with a Thursday scoring average of 4.719.
EAGLES: 1 BIRDIES: 56 PARS: 83 BOGEYS: 11 OTHERS: 2
The par-4 4th hole was the toughest with a Thursday scoring average of 4.490.
EAGLES: 0 BIRDIES: 7 PARS: 80
BOGEYS: 52 OTHERS: 14
About the leader • Matt Every birdied his first three holes (Nos. 10-12) en route to a course-record, 9-under 63. His three-stroke lead is the largest first-round margin at the Valero Texas Open since Jesper Parnevik held a 4-stroke advantage after the opening round in 2007. • The previous 18-hole course-record of 8-under 64 at TPC San Antonio belonged to Ryan Palmer (R4/2010/T9) and Scott Piercy ( R2/2010/T30). • Needing just 23 putts to complete the round, Every sank a 45-foot birdie on the par-5, second (his 11th of the day). • Every, a 2006 University of Florida graduate, is amidst his best year on the PGA TOUR since joining in 2010, having amassed three top-10 finishes in just 10 starts. Every is coming off a T8 at last week's RBC Heritage. • Among just five TOUR starts last year, Every managed a T30 in his first start at the Valero Texas Open. • In his 40th career PGA TOUR start this week, Every is still in search of his first TOUR win. Of the previous 39 starts, his best finish is a T3 at the Mayakoba Golf Classic in February. • Dating to 2000, there have been only two first-round leaders of the Valero Texas Open to hang on for the win. Justin Leonard claimed his fifth PGA TOUR win in 2000 after holding a share of the opening-round lead at LaCantera, and Robert Gamez achieved the feat in 2005. • This year, the only first-round leader to win was George McNeill at the Puerto Rico Open.
"Lately I've been trying to do as little as possible with everything involved with golf," Every said. "If I'm hitting bad in the range I won't even work out -- I'll quit and go home. And it's been working. It has. I'm playing better golf because of it."