Nate Lashley charges into the lead on a 63, Anirban Lahiri makes 69

Nate Lashley rode to the top of the Rocket Mortgage Classic leaderboard with a spate of birdies at the end of the first round. Anirban Lahiri shot a bogey-free 69

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Nate Lashley - PGA TOUR Image - Rocket Mortgage Classic

AP on PGA Tour, 28 June 2019: Nate Lashley birdied the final three holes and five of the last six for a 9-under 63 and the first-round lead Thursday in the Rocket Mortgage Classic, the PGA TOUR’s first event in Detroit. Nick Watney and Ryan Armour are tied for 2nd at 8 under; and Rory Sabbatini, Stewart Cink, Chase Wright, Adam Schenk, Chez Reavie, Talor Gooch, and Charles Howell III are tied for 4th at 7 under.

Among the first two groups to get the tournament off the blocks, Anirban Lahiri was smooth as silk. The 31-year-old Indian ended the day in T55 with a three-under 69, starting on the 10th tee.

Anirban Lahiri hit 10 of 14 fairways and 11 of 18 greens in regulation, and finished the day without a bogey.

On the par-5 fourth, Anirban Lahiri’s approach shot set himself up for the birdie on the hole. This moved Anirban Lahiri to 1 under for the round.

After a 289 yard drive on the 552-yard par-5 seventh, Lahiri chipped his third shot to 4 feet, which he rolled for one-putt birdie on the hole. This moved Lahiri to 2 under for the round.

At the 207-yard par-3 ninth, Lahiri hit a tee shot 188 yards at the green, setting himself up for the 14-foot putt for birdie. This moved Lahiri to 3 under for the round.

The 36-year-old Lashley had the lowest score in his PGA TOUR career, a day after getting a spot at Detroit Golf Club as an alternate. Ranked 353rd in the world and No. 132 in the FedExCup standings, Lashley’s only top-10 finish in his two-year PGA TOUR career is a tie for eighth in the Puerto Rico Open in February.

Ryan Armour and Nick Watney were a stroke back at 64. Chez Reavie, the Travelers Championship winner last week in Connecticut, Charles Howell III and Stewart Cink topped the group at 65.

Dustin Johnson opened with a 71. Gary Woodland had a 73 in his first start since winning the U.S. Open.

Lashley made the most of the opportunity with a bogey-free round, taking advantage of scoring opportunities during a day with little wind on a short course with receptive greens. He opened with a birdie and had three more on the front nine before the closing spree.

Lashley, who is from Nebraska, had a knee injury last year that stunted his rookie season on the PGA TOUR after 17 events. There’s no chance he can afford to be comfortable with the early lead.

Johnson provided proof the Donald Ross-designed course can present a challenge. He ranked in the middle of the pack off the tee, missing five of 14 fairways. He was among the worst on approach shots, leaving him 33-plus feet away from the pin on average.

Johnson was 2 over at No. 11 after his second double bogey before rallying with three birdies over the last five holes.

Woodland was strong late in the first round after failing to maintain any momentum from winning the first major of his career. He tied a U.S. Open record by making just four bogeys over four rounds at Pebble Beach and had that many bogeys in a four-hole stretch at Detroit Golf Club and a total of six. After falling to 5 over through 11 holes, he had four birdies over the last six to finish with a 73.

 

Reavie, meanwhile, picked up where he left off after winning for his first win in 11 years. He had a 4-under 32 on the front nine and was 3 under on the back, including an eagle on the 582-yard, par-5 17th.