Lucas Herbert of Australia apparently has his attitude and game back on track after taking a break.
The 27-year-old Herbert birdied six straight holes on the back nine while positing a nine-under-par 63 to take a two-stroke lead over S.H. Kim of South Korea after the first round of the Fortinet Championship on the North Course and Silverado Resort and Spa in Napa.
“I think I had become probably a bitter and spiteful person,” said Herbert, who missed the cut six times in 11 events on the PGA Tour through the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England. “… I was wound up pretty tight and kind of lashed out at people around me too quickly, too easily.
“It doesn’t take much for you to be off out here. When you don’t get a few of those results, it just compounds and it compounds and you put more pressure on yourself, and it gets worse and very quickly you can go down a slippery slope.
“It’s pretty hard to take any time off in the middle of the season. Go and tell me to miss Memorial, I’m never going to do that, it’s such an amazing event, but it was probably what I needed at the time. I just didn’t have the ability to go and do that. It sort of got to a point, a sort of breaking point, I just had to do it.
“But it seems to have helped.”
Herbert, who has four pro victories in his career including 2021 Butterfield Bermuda Championship for his only one on the PGA Tour, made three birdies and his only bogey on the front nine before reeling off those six consecutive birdies through No. 17 coming home in his 63.
Kim, who has won three times a pro but not yet on the PGA Tour, holed out from 106 yards for an eagle on the 14th hole and added five birdies in his 65.
Jason Dufner, the 2013 PGA champion who has won five times on the PGA Tour but not since the 2017 Memorial Tournament, had four birdies on the front nine and three on the back in a 66 and is tied for third with Kelly Kraft, who had three birdies on each nine in his bogey-free round; Harry Hall of England, who birdied four of the last seven holes; Sung Kang of South Korea, who also played bogey-free, Zac Blair, who birdied five straight holes through No. 16, and Mark Hubbard, who made four straight birdie on the back nine in another bogey-free round.
Kevin Streelman, who has won twice on the PGA Tour but not since the 2014 Travelers Championship, birdied four of his first eight holes en route to a 67 and is tied for ninth with Sangmoon Bae of South Korea, who had three straight birdies on the back nine in a bogey-free round; Satoshi Kodaira of Japan, who had three birdies on each nine, and Justin Lower, who birdied three of the last seven holes.
Former world No. 1 Justin Thomas made two birdies on each nine in a 69 and is tied for 20th, while seven-ranked Max Homa of Valencia and Cal, the two-time defending Fortinet champion, made a late birdie to salvage a 70 and is tied for 35th.
For complete results and second-round tee times, visit: https://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard