Marc Leishman fires career-low 61, leads by three at AT&T Byron Nelson
The story entering the week at the AT&T Byron Nelson was the event's new host site, Trinity Forest Golf Club, a links-style Coore and Crenshaw design different than anything golf fans see on the PGA Tour throughout the year. After firing a career-low 10-under 61 on Thursday, Marc Leishman probably wishes they could play there every week.
Leishman, 34, arrived at Trinity Forest coming off two of his leaner weeks on tour this season, having missed the cut at the RBC Heritage and finishing in a tie for 63rd at the Players Championship. He bounced back in a big way in Dallas, starting with an eagle at the par-5 first after hitting his 236-yard second shot to three feet. His next red number didn't come until back-to-back birdies at the sixth and seventh holes, which led to a front-nine four-under 32.
On the back nine the Australian exploded, making three straight birdies at 10, 11 and 12, then another eagle at the par-5 14th and one more birdie at the par-3 17th to come home in 29. He hit 17 of 18 greens in regulation, all 14 fairways and ranks first in both strokes-gained/tee-to-green and approach-the-green.
J.J. Spaun and Jimmy Walker are three back with opening-round seven-under 64s. Walker's, who did not make a bogey on Thursday, continues his impressive revival in 2018 following his battle with lyme disease. Barring a disastrous round on Friday, Walker will make his eighth straight cut, a stretch that has included four top 25s and two top 5s, including last week's T-2 at the Players Championship.
"Feel good. Last week was great," said Walker. "A big week for me, especially what's been going on, and I feel a lot better now. Golf game seems like it's coming back. Last week was huge, a big week. Lot of smiles."
Spaun, who came home in six-under 30 on Trinity Forest's front nine, has struggled in the new year, having missed six of his 10 cuts following an impressive solo second at last fall's RSM Classic. An injury that led to a WD at the Waste Management Phoenix Open no doubt played a role in some of his struggles.
"I had a compressed ulnar nerve in my elbow and I was getting this pain in the back of my hand between my ring and my pinky finger and it happened at Phoenix, actually," said Spaun. "I withdrew during Phoenix and I saw two different doctors and saw nothing in there. I finally went to see a specialist in L.A. and told me from what he thinks, what he sees based on my MRI is my nerve compressed my elbow. Basically an overuse issue.
So I had to take about four-and-a-half, five weeks off, no swinging. So that was from Honda through -- my last was Honda and my first event back was RBC."
Since the Honda, Spaun has showed small signs of improvement, tying for 26th at the Valero Texas Open and missing the cut by just one shot at the Players.
Among a large group at six under is Sam Saunders, whose 65 featured eight birdies and two bogeys. Jordan Spieth is eight shots back after shooting a two-under 69.