NASSAU, Bahamas – News and notes from Thursday’s first round of the Hero World Challenge. If your name was Patrick, you definitely enjoyed the day, as Patrick Reed and Patrick Cantlay finished as co-leaders at 7 under, three shots ahead of the rest of the 18-man field.
REED THE WORLD TRAVELER
He played in a tournament in Dubai two weeks ago. Last week it was a tournament in Hong Kong. Now he’s in the Bahamas after a brief stopover in his home in Houston. This follows a fall schedule that also included stops in Paris (for the Ryder Cup) and Shanghai (for the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions).
And yet jet-lag doesn’t seem to be much of an issue for Patrick Reed, who recorded eight birdies en route to his 65.
“One thing I’ve learned how to do with flying overseas and playing on the European Tour for four years now is learn how to adapt very quickly,” said Reed, who plays enough events in Europe to maintain membership there as well as on the PGA TOUR. “Kind of get on the right time zones and kind of time the times you’re trying to sleep on the flights to match up with the next place.
“Once Sunday’s over, it’s all about getting ready and to physically and mentally be ready … by Wednesday because then I can use Wednesday as a day to really make sure things are where they need to be.”
Reed is making his fifth start in this event, and has three top-5 finishes, including a runner-up in 2016 when the tournament made its first foray to the Bahamas. The competitive spirit is there but he also considers this week important to set him up for the re-start of the PGA TOUR season in January.
“Last event of the year, kind of one of those relaxing-type events,” Reed said. “Only have 18 guys, but at the same time it allows you to kind of get in that mode of seeing how your game is for the four weeks you’re going to have off until Hawaii.”
CANTLAY BY A NOSE
After nearly defending his title at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open – he shot 63-65 on the weekend to finish one shot short of Bryson DeChambeau – Patrick Cantlay flew to Miami for two surgeries. One was for a deviated septum, the other for sinus. That knocked him out for a week, and then he took another week off from the golf course.
But his breathing is better now, and his game is just as sharp as it was in Las Vegas. His 65 was the only bogey-free round shot on Thursday.
“I obviously have dealt with allergies and sinus stuff, and this one was pretty blocked,” Cantlay said. “I thought about it for a while and I just had trouble sleeping through the night this year, so I just decided it was time to do the surgery.
“I’m glad I did. Hopefully it gives me a little easier time breathing.”
He said his nose is still healing and that some inflammation remains, but it obviously didn’t impact his performance Thursday – especially on the final six holes, in which he posted five birdies.
Cantlay and another competitor this week, Jon Rahm, are donating $500 for each birdie made to the California Strong fund in which donations go to those directly affected by the recent California wildfires.
Cantlay’s seven birdies and Rahm’s four means the first day total is up to $5,500.
“I really feel for those people, just seeing the devastation,” Cantlay said. “There are a couple of different fires and seeing just the whole towns getting wiped out. Just going a little bit to help.”
TIGER’S DAY: Tiger Woods missed just one fairway on Thursday in shooting a 1-over 73. During the 2017-18 PGA TOUR season, he played only one round in which he missed one or fewer fairways (the final round of the BMW Championship). For more on Tiger’s first round, click here.
SHIRT CHANGE: Good friends Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson wore identical-color burgundy shirts for their tee time Thursday. With Rose owning a residence nearby, he had someone pick out a different color before the twosome teed off. “I thought the new one looked better on him,” Stenson said. “Not everyone can wear this burgundy color as well as I did today. We would’ve looked like twins out there, and I didn’t want to hear the comments, so we took the easy way out.” Stenson finished with a 4-under 68 to share third with Dustin Johnson, while Rose shot 70.
DEFENDING CHAMP: Rickie Fowler shot a 61 in his final round a year ago to win the Hero World Challenge. It was a different story on Thursday, as Fowler needed a birdie on the final hole to shoot an even-par 72.
HOT STRETCH: Alex Noren was at even par through 11 holes … and then he turned it on. He birdied 12, 13 and 14, then eagled the par-5 15th. Two late bogeys left him at 3 under and tied for fifth with Bubba Watson.
A FIRST FOR BRYSON: Bryson DeChambeau was just off the green at the par-3 fifth and facing a birdie putt. He ended up with a double bogey after his ball rolled off the other side of the green. “I got it going a little fast and it was see you later,” DeChambeau said. “I think that was the first time I putted off the green on the PGA TOUR, so that was fun.” DeChambeau steadied the ship on the back nine to shoot a 2-under 70.
SHOT OF THE DAY
Shot of the Day
Justin Thomas chips in for birdie for the Shot of the Day