Washington (AFP) – Doc Redman is red-hot at Detroit Golf Club again, firing seven of his eight birdies on the back nine Thursday to grab a share of the early first-round lead in the US PGA Tour Rocket Mortgage Classic.
Redman, 22, was a surprise runner-up in Detroit last year after coming through Monday qualifying.
After a bogey at the 10th put him even for the day in the wake of a lone front-nine birdie, Redman caught fire with seven birdies the rest of the way in a seven-under par 65.
He was tied for the clubhouse lead with US veteran Scott Stallings, with Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo and American Peter Malnati both in the clubhouse on six-under 66.
US star Rickie Fowler was among a group two shots off the pace.
Redman kickstarted his round with a birdie putt of less than three feet at the par-three 11th. After draining a 15-footer at 12 he tapped in for birdie at 13, needed just a four-footer for birdie at 15 and rolled in an 11-footer at 16.
After another tap-in at 17, he capped his round with a downhill 15-footer at the last — where the challenge posed for the early starters was epitomized by Fowler’s double-bogey.
“I’ve come off two good finishes and a really good finish last year at this event, which has never really happened to me,” Redman said of his comfort level on the course.
“I think I feel very comfortable because I’ve played well here and been here. So it just comes down to playing golf and doing the best I can.”
Fowler’s double-bogey from dense rough at 18 came mid-round after his 10th-tee start. It was the only miscue in a round that included seven birdies, including three in a row on his inward run en route to his 67.
Fowler, the tournament sponsor’s ambassador for the event, played alongside defending champion Nate Lashley, who led wire-to-wire on the way to a six-shot win last year.
But Lashley got off to a stuttering start, microphones catching his “God I’m terrible today,” mutter after he found one bunker on the way to a one-under 71.
Lashley said his problem wasn’t nerves, but perhaps the reverse, with no fans in attendance to help get the competitive juices flowing.
“It almost feels like it’s not a golf tournament,” Lashley said.”So I need to maybe get some nerves for tomorrow and get a little adrenaline going.”
The tournament is the fourth since the PGA Tour resumed play in the wake of a three-month coronavirus shutdown that began in March.
The first tournament slated to admit fans is The Memorial, July 16-19 in Dublin, Ohio.