Charlotte, May 5 (IANS) A recharged K.H. Lee of South Korea rode on a hot putter for an opening 5-under 66 for tied second place after the first round of the US$20 million Wells Fargo Championship.
The two-time PGA Tour winner overcame an early bogey with five birdies at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina on Thursday, to lie one back of first-round leader Tommy Fleetwood of England as the Korean enjoyed a welcome return to the golf course, which hosted the Presidents Cup last September where Lee made his International Team debut.
Lee’s compatriots Tom Kim, Si Woo Kim and Sungjae Im, who were also part of last year’s Presidents Cup, also enjoyed strong starts with rounds of 67, 68 and 69 respectively in the star-studded tournament. Chinese Taipei’s C.T. Pan opened with a 68.
A two-week break at home in Orlando allowed Lee to refuel and sharpen his short game which worked like a charm. After a bogey on No. 2, the 31-year-old hit three straight birdies from the fifth hole and he charged home with three more birdies, with a snaky 30-footer on 17 being the highlight.
Tom Kim was another golfer who enjoyed a return to Quail Hollow as he produced a bogey-free card. He sank four birdies on Hole Nos. 4, 5, 9 and 14 to share seventh place with the likes of Patrick Cantlay and Adam Scott. The 20-year-old, who is also a two-time PGA TOUR winner, missed six greens in regulation but scrambled superbly to keep the bogeys off his card.
Fleetwood, chasing a first PGA TOUR win, hit an eagle and four birdies en route to his third career 18-hole lead/co-lead on Tour. With four previous runner-up finishes, the 32-year-old was pleased with his solid start.
Three-time Wells Fargo Championship winner, Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, opened his campaign with a 68 on his return to TOUR action after missing the cut at the Masters Tournament last month while defending champion Max Homa shot a 70.