May 18, 2018 / 1:06 AM / 10 days ago

Leishman fires career-low 61 to lead Byron Nelson

(Reuters) - Australian Marc Leishman fired a career-low 61 for a three-shot lead after the first round of the AT&T Byron Nelson at its new home in Dallas on Thursday while local favourite Jordan Spieth failed to make a move.

May 17, 2018; Dallas, TX, USA; Marc Leishman plays his shot from the 18th tee during the first round of the AT&T Byron Nelson golf tournament at Trinity Forest Golf Club. Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

World number 16 Leishman, buoyed by a pair of eagles at the links-style Trinity Forest Golf Club, went bogey-free through a 10-under round to sit three shots clear of Americans J.J. Spaun and Jimmy Walker.

Leishman took kindly to the tournament’s new venue after enjoying six top-15 finishes in nine starts at its previous home at the TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas.

“I would’ve been this place’s harshest critic just because I love that other place at Las Colinas,” Leishman said. “But I got here and looked out past the clubhouse and thought, ‘This is going to be really good.’

“I enjoyed it today.”

May 17, 2018; Dallas, TX, USA; Jimmy Walker plays his shot from the seventh tee during the first round of the AT&T Byron Nelson golf tournament at Trinity Forest Golf Club. Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

Leishman could not have asked for a better start to his round as his approach from 237 yards at the par-five first hole stopped three feet from the cup, allowing him a tap-in eagle that set the stage for a memorable day.

The three-times PGA Tour winner, whose previous career-low was 62, then made birdies at the sixth and seventh holes before a scorching trip around the back nine that included four birdies and an eagle at the par-five 14th.

Spaun, who started on the 10th, made six birdies over a stunning seven-hole stretch of his back nine to sit with Walker one clear of a pack of eight that included Mexico’s Abraham Ancer and Americans Sam Saunders and Jonathan Byrd.

May 17, 2018; Dallas, TX, USA; Jordan Spieth putts on the ninth green during the first round of the AT&T Byron Nelson golf tournament at Trinity Forest Golf Club. Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

World number three Spieth (69), the highest-ranked player in the field, did well to erase a bogey at the par-four fifth with birdies at seven and eight but only had one more birdie the rest of the way and was in a share of 57th place.

The Dallas native, seeking his first win this year, would love it to be at his home-town this week.

“It was about as easy tee to green as I’ve ever seen this place,” Spieth said. “You know, the ball was running a lot, you

didn’t have to hit a whole lot of club off the tees and without the wind. That’s normally the defence of the golf course.

“So, not surprised to see a low round. 10-under is an incredible round anyway for Marc. Not surprised to see low scores. Wish I got more out of it, honestly.”

Former U.S. Masters champion Adam Scott, seeking his first PGA Tour win since 2016, mixed six birdies with two bogeys to reach four-under and a share of 23rd.

Japanese world number nine Hideki Matsuyama and Spanish world number 14 Sergio Garcia carded matching one-over 72s to sit in a distant share of 120th place.

Defending champion Billy Horschel, who started on the back nine, had an eagle at the par-five 14th en route to a three-under 68 that left him seven shots back.

Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto and writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by Ian Ransom

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