By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. -- Prior to Thursday, Billy Mayfair had played in 21 PGA TOUR events this year. He'd only broken 70 in the first round on seven occasions, though, and the veteran was having a hard time playing catch-up.
The first round of The Greenbrier Classic was a different story, though. Mayfair put together a 65, which was his best round of the season, to pull within a shot of the early lead held by Trevor Immelman.
Mayfair started on the back nine of the Old White TPC and set the tone for the day early when he shot 32. He made birdies in bunches -- three straight starting at No. 12 and consecutively at Nos. 18 and 1 before making his only bogey on the third hole. A 4-footer at the ninth hole sent Mayfair home with the kind of momentum that has been lacking this year.
"'I’ve just not been getting off to real good starts," Mayfair explained. "I just kind of shoot self in the foot and I always seem to be always seem to be trying to catch up. So getting off to a good start today really helped."
Mayfair played steady all day, hitting 11 of 14 fairways and 14 of 18 greens. The putter was cooperative, too, with 27 on the firm new greens. With calm breezes and ample sunshine, Mayfair said he'd be surprised if someone didn't go lower in the afternoon.
"I drove the ball very well today in the fairway and I hit a lot of good shots short of the hole," Mayfair said. "They kind of bounced and with the firmness of the greens rolled up close to the pin. I had a few real good bounces today.
"(The restoration) makes you think a little. The greens are a lot firmer but lot quicker in certain spots. It's like re-learning the golf course over again. But in the end, you just have to put ball in right spots and when got an uphill putt you've got to take advantage."
Mayfair said he played The Old White TPC on Tuesday when it was "super-duper long" after being softened by rain and hit a 2-iron into the second hole, a 440-yard par 4. On Thursday, he hit a 7-iron, and said the course was playing a "lot fairer and a lot better."
Mayfair, a five-time winner on the PGA TOUR, lost his exempt status and had to go back to q-school last year. He ended up winning and was hoping for better in 2011 but only has one top-10.
"It's been a disappointing year," Mayfair said. "... But as we all say, one week out here can change a lot of things. I'm still in the in FedExCup race (ranked 113th)."