Hahn goes low, stars lurk at AT&T Byron Nelson
May 18, 2017
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
Hahn and Barnes lead the pack at AT&T Byron NelsonIn the opening round of the 2017 AT&T Byron Nelson, James Hahn and Ricky Barnes both shot 6-under-par to lead the pack by two strokes.
IRVING, Texas – News and notes from Thursday’s first round of the AT&T Byron Nelson, with James Hahn and Ricky Barnes the co-leaders after shooting 6-under 64s.
For more of what unfolded during Thursday's round, click here for the Daily Wrap-up.
WILL SEOUL TRAIN CONTINUE?
A few days ago, James Hahn sent a text message to his friend Si Woo Kim, who on Sunday became the youngest winner of THE PLAYERS Championship. A few words exchanged via phones won’t be enough, though.
“I just want to see him in person, tell him how happy I am and congratulate him,” Hahn said.
Both players were born in Seoul, South Korea, albeit 14 years apart. The 35-year-old Hahn was raised in California, while Kim stayed in Seoul and went to college there until earning his PGA TOUR card at age 17 and joining the TOUR at age 18.
Hahn wasn’t surprised to see the 21-year-old win at TPC Sawgrass.
“We all knew he was going to be great,” Hahn said. “Just a matter of time until he realizes how good he can be.”
THE PLAYERS win was the second of Kim’s young career. Hahn also has two TOUR wins, but he hasn’t been in contention in any of his 13 starts since the calendar clicked over to 2017. He’s missed four cuts in that span, including last week at THE PLAYERS.
Perhaps he received some inspiration from Kim on Thursday. Hahn’s bogey-free 64 ends a string of 23 consecutive rounds in which he has scored in the 70s (just five of those under par). It’s his lowest round on the PGA TOUR since October. His putting, which has been a trouble spot this season, finally came around.
Hahn’s first visit to TPC Four Seasons resulted in a tie for fifth in 2014, so the good vibes are here. Will he make it two straight for Seoul-born golfers?
“Only the first 18 out of 72,” Hahn said. “I don’t want to get too ahead of ourselves.”
SCARY VISITOR FOR BROOKS
Brooks Koepka was preparing to hit his third shot out of tall grass 55 yards left of the pin at the par-4 ninth when he got a scare. Something just left of his ball jumped out at him.
“I don’t know what was going on,” Koepka said. “It freaked me out. If I had to guess, maybe a rat or a frog.”
Koepka made a bogey on that hole, his last one of the day, to complete a 3-under 67. It was certainly a respectable score, leaving him on the first page of the leaderboard.
But Koepka, who lost in a playoff to Sergio Garcia at TPC Four Seasons last year, wasn’t particularly impressed.
“I didn’t play very good,” he said. “I putted good the first seven holes. After that, felt like I had no clue what I was doing. Even last year, I didn’t play very good around this place. I just managed to get a decent score.”
As for today? “Three-under isn’t very good around here,” he said, “but I’ll take it for how I played.”
CALL OF THE DAY
HEAVY WINDS FOR AFTERNOON WAVE
Players teeing off in the afternoon definitely had the worst end of the draw Thursday. The field average for the later tee times was 72.96, more than two strokes higher than the morning average (70.88). Blame the winds that picked up considerably as the afternoon wore on.
“The wind was blowing hard and it was gusty,” Dustin Johnson said, “so it was very difficult to judge the wind.”
Johnson, the FedExCup leader and world No. 1, shot a 3-under 69. That was the best score of the afternoon but still leaves him three shots off the lead.
“I felt like I hit a lot of good shots and ended up in really bad spots due to the wind conditions,” said Johnson, who for the eighth consecutive time shot an opening round in the 60s at this event.
Jason Day, who posted his first TOUR win here in 2010, shot a 2-under 68 that included an eagle at the par-5 seventh when he rolled in a putt from inside 26 feet. Upon seeing that Johnson had shot a 67, Day told caddie Colin Swatton that the score was “like 5, 6 under today in the afternoon.
“To be able to get out in 2 under,” continued Day, “hopefully the wind can be a little big calmer tomorrow for us and we can get out and get a good one in and try and just work our way up the leaderboard.”
ODDS AND ENDS
Ricky Barnes’ 64 was his lowest score in 16 months on TOUR, since an opening 63 at the Sony Open in Hawaii in January of 2016. But was it his best round? “No,” Barnes said, “I felt like I’ve played better rounds.” Barnes was pleased with his first round last week at THE PLAYERS, shooting a 2-under 70 in windy conditions. He made the cut but didn’t come close to duplicating that score, eventually finishing T-65, He’s yet to record a top-10 finish in 19 starts this season, but after missing the cut nine times in a 10-start stretch, he sees signs of improvement. “Haven’t had a great year,” Barnes said, “but I’m having signs of brilliance.” …
Jordan Spieth’s the leader in his own house. Spieth shot a 2-under 68 while roommates Kramer Hickok shot 76 and Alex Moon shot 74. Smylie Kaufman is also staying with Spieth this week and shot 71. “All in all, it’s a good start at this tournament,” Spieth said of his score, which he posted out of the morning wave. “… If I can duplicate tomorrow, I’ll probably move up the board from today.” …
Bud Cauley is on a roll. He tied for ninth at the RBC Heritage, tied for 10th the next week at the Valero Texas Open, then tied for fifth with teammate Justin Thomas at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. His opening 67 continued the nice stretch. Although he hit just five fairways Thursday, he credits an uptick in his driving as the key difference. “Felt like I’ve been working on the right stuff all year,” Cauley said. “Just in the last month or so, it’s kind of come together for me.” …
Defending champ Sergio Garcia shot a 3-over 73. It’s his second highest opening round in his 13 starts at TPC Four Seasons. He opened the 2006 tournament with a 75.
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