CHARLOTTE, North Carolina, May 14 (Reuters) - American Robert Streb rode a little luck and a hot putter into the clubhouse lead during the opening round of the Wells Fargo Championship on Thursday.
Streb dominated the par-fives, picking up birdies at all four of the long holes, en route to a bogey-free seven-under-par 65 in pleasant morning conditions at Quail Hollow.
The 28-year-old from Oklahoma headed local favourite Webb Simpson by two strokes, while South Korean K.J. Choi trailed by three with half the field back in the clubhouse.
Streb, whose breakthrough PGA Tour victory came at the McGladrey Classic in October, had a mini-slump earlier this year which coincided with the arrival of a daughter in February.
But a putting adjustment last week led to a solid tie for 30th at the Players Championship, and he carried that form, and then some, into Thursday.
”Everything is trending the right way at the moment,“ Streb told reporters. ”I got the putter going, got my hands pushed forward a little bit and finally just made some putts over five, six feet.
“Last week was the first time in awhile I felt like I had putted solid for the most part.”
Streb’s lucky break came at the par-five seventh, where his 15-yard pitch shot was moving like a rocket when it clattered against the pin and stopped four feet away, setting up birdie.
“I hit my pitch too hard. Luckily it hit the flag. Everything was going my way,” said Streb.
Simpson, who lives adjacent to the seventh hole, used his local knowledge to make his share of putts.
“Flat stick was good today and I managed my game well,” the 2012 U.S. Open champion said.
Defending champion J.B. Holmes (69) was four shots off the pace after mixing four birdies with a bogey.
World number one Rory McIlroy, Swede Henrik Stenson and Australian Adam Scott were among the big names with late tee times. (Editing by Frank Pingue)