Nick O’Hern matched the course record at CordeValle on Thursday, shooting a 9-under 62 to take the lead at the Frys.com Open.
Jhonattan Vegas and Nicolas Colsaerts are three shots back and tied for second.
O’Hern made nine birdies and no bogeys in what was his lowest round of the year.
It couldn’t have come at a better time.
O’Hern came into the week 144th on the money list after just one top 10 and 12 missed cuts, including in five of his last seven starts, in 23 starts this season.
Thursday, the Aussie hit 14 of 18 greens in regulation and needed just 23 putts.
Davis Love III, a 20-time PGA TOUR winner, shoots for his first win since 2008 at the FedEx St. Jude Classic.
Nick O’Hern is not only in good shape at the Reno-Tahoe Open -- he’s in the lead at the moment -- he’s also in position to make it to the first round of the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup.
O’Hern was ranked 103rd in the FedExCup standings entering the week, and a good finish this week will all but lock up a spot for him.
Hunter Haas, currently tied for second place, is also in good standing -- he ranked 90th entering the week. A good finish at Montreux would likewise assure him for a spot in The Barclays in three weeks.
There are several other players near the lead that will need strong finishes this week if they hope to make the Playoffs:
-- Chris Riley, currently tied with Haas at 7 under, entered the week at 142nd in the standings. A second place finish could move Riley to 106th in the standings, and a win could move him as high as 78th.
-- Notah Begay has yet to make a cut in the three events he’s played on TOUR this year but after a second-round 67 he find himself at 6 under, one shot off the lead. A win this week could move him as high as 144th in the standings and within striking distance of the top 125.
-- Veteran Steve Elkington entered the week 215th in the standings and is tied with Begay at 6 under through two rounds. A win could put him on the FedExCup bubble, in the 125th position.
The switch of Montreux Golf and Country Club’s front and back nines was intended to add more drama to the finish on Sunday.
On Thursday, however, early leaders have taken advantage of the new finishing holes. The six players currently on top have played Nos. 16, 17 and 18 at a combined 8 under.
Current clubhouse leader Nick O’Hern birdied Nos. 17 and 18 to shoot a bogey-free 65. Steve Flesch, who shot a 4-under 68, also birdied the two finishing holes.
Vaughn Taylor is always happy to be back in Reno. The two-time Reno-Tahoe Open champion (2004, ‘05) is off to another good start at Montreux Golf and Country Club, sitting at 4 under through 14 holes in a bogey-free round so far.
The pace is being set at 5 under right now, with Nick O’Hern, Chris Riley and Dean Wilson at that mark. Wilson, in particular, could use a good week to solidify his date with the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup. He’s 123rd in points.
If you’re wondering about the cutoff man at No. 125, that’s Australian Matt Jones. He’s 1 over through 10 holes in Reno.
Players returning to the Reno-Tahoe Open found a little bit of a twist with the switched nines at Montreux Golf and Country Club. Of course, it doesn’t take long for PGA TOUR pros to adjust and start firing at the flags.
Early in Round 1, Nick O’Hern took the lead with a 4 under trip through his first nine holes. The Australian is still searching for his first TOUR win, and just as importantly this week is looking to improve on his 103rd place in the FedExCup standings.
Also at 4 under through seven holes is Shaun Micheel, the 2003 PGA Champion. He doesn’t have a top-20 finish this season and is 178th in the FedExCup race.
By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM Site Producer
Sounds like the most incongruous of golf pairings, but it wasn’t far from coming to fruition Sunday at Augusta – the Green Jacket and the long putter.
Adam Scott fell a little short of capturing his first major at Augusta National, but if he had it would have also
Tim Clark used one to win THE PLAYERS Championship last year and finished second with one in the 2006 Masters. Nick O’Hern and Scott McCarron also use long putters. Belly putters are even more prevalent, as we saw last month with Martin Laird and Spencer Levin using them while battling for the Arnold Palmer Invitational title.
When Jack Nicklaus won his signature sixth Green Jacket with an oversized-head Response ZT putter, the public bought thousands in the days afterward. Might the same thing have happened if Scott had won with his 49-inch Scotty Cameron Studio Select Kombi? Who knows.
But don’t expect to see Scott with anything else anytime soon. He put one in the bag earlier this year at the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship and it has more than earned its place.
“After I saw some putts going in, it wasn't really hard to change,” Scott said. “The rhythm with the long putter is very nice, and that's something I was fighting in my putting with the short putter. So I started practicing with it, and the more I practiced with it, the better it felt and the more putts I made and eventually it was a pretty easy decision that I should give it a run.”
Scott tied for third at the Masters and had 111 putts over four days, which tied him for third in the field behind Luke Donald and the winner, Charl Schwartzel.
MORE BELLY TALK: World No. 2 Lee Westwood couldn’t hide his disgust with his work on the greens at Augusta and went to a belly putter for the final round. The 2010 runner-up finished tied for 11th, shooting 74-70 for the weekend after a Friday 67 moved him into contention.
“To come so close last year and get myself in good shape this year and then, on the greens, it just makes me feel like pulling my hair out,” Westwood said. “I felt a little more comfortable (Sunday) with the belly putter. At least I made one 15-footer.”
Westwood added that he “didn’t see any future in the short (putter) for a while.”
ANOTHER TIGER PUTTER?: OK, maybe not yet. But this photo from his trip to China this week is amusing. Look closely and you’ll see Woods practicing a long-putter stroke with a standard-length putter.