Lee Hodges has one victory as a pro and has work to do to make the FedEx Cup playoffs, but for one day at least, you wouldn’t have known it.
The 28-year-old Hodges carded a bogey-free, eight-under par 63 to take a one-stroke lead over Hideki Matsuyama of Japan, Brandt Snedeker, Kevin Streelman and Tyler Duncan after the first round of the 3M Open at TPC Twin Cities in Blaine, Minn.
The top 70 players in the point standings after the Wyndham Championship next week will qualify for the John Deere Classic, the opener of the PGA Tour playoffs the following week.
“To see that wedge shot go to within an inch on the first hole and then make that 40-footer on the second hole, I was like, ‘All right, here we go, might as well make a lot of birdies if we’re gonna make a couple,” said Hodges, who has missed the cut in three of his last four PGAA Tour Starts.
“I mean, it’s cool, but like you said, if I don’t do again in the next three days, it doesn’t mean anything. It was just a great day today, I’ll take it for what it is and we’ll get out there tomorrow and try to do it again.
“Everything went well. I really committed to every shot out there and hit a lot of really good ones.”
Hodges, whose only pro victory came in the 2020 WinCo Foods Portland Open on the Korn Ferry Tour, birdied his first three holes after starting on the back nine and wound making four birdies on each nine in his career-best 63.
Matsuyama, the 2021 Masters champion who has 16 victories as a pro including eight on the PGA Tour, made four birdies after also starting on the back nine and added three more coming home in his bogey-free 64, while Snedeker had four consecutive birdies on the front in another bogey-free round, Streelman mad a 16-foot eagle putt on the last hole, and Duncan birdied four of the first six holes en route to his bogey-free 64.
“I knew it was going to be a little learning curve coming back, and took a little longer than I wanted to, but finally able to put a round together today,” said Snedeker, a nine-time PGA Tour winner, who is playing for the sixth time since undergoing sternum surgery and is coming off four straight missed cuts.
“It was coming, and it was nice to see some putts go in and kind of have an easy stress-free round where I hit the ball really well, and didn’t do anything poorly all day.”
Said Matsuyama, who needed medical help on the course because of the heat, said: “It got really hot out there on the back nine. I’ll relax this afternoon and hopefully get ready to play well again tomorrow.”
Justin Suh of San Jose and USC, winner of the 2022 Korn Ferry Tour Championship, had four birdies on each nine against two bogeys in a 65 and is two shots behind in a tie for sixth with Nick Hardy, who also made eight birdies and two bogeys, and Emiliano Grillo of Argentina, who birdied three of the first five holes and added three more birdies coming home in a bogey-free 65.
Defending champion Tony Finau, who has six PGA Tour victories, started birdie-birdie-eagle-birdie on his way to a 66 and is three strokes behind in a big tie for eighth with Billy Horschel, who had four birdies on his front nine; Adam Svensson of Canada, who made a 24-foot eagle putt on the sixth hole and closed with two birdies; Vincent Norrman of Sweden, recent winner of the Barbasol Championship, who had three birdies on the front nine and four on the back; Doc Redman, who holed out from 41 feet for an eagle on the sixth home and added four birdies; Callum Tarren of England, who collected six birdies against a single bogey; Augusto Nunez of Argentina, who made a 15-foot eagle putt on the 12th hole and added three birdies in his bogey-free 66; J.T. Poston, who birdied four of the first eight holes, and J.J. Spaun of Los Angeles and San Diego State, who made four straight birdies on his back nine in a bogey-free round.
Two-time PGA champion Justin Thomas, the 2017 FedEx Cup champion, had three birdies against a lone bogey to tie for 46th with a 69, while Cameron Young, the 2021-22 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, birdied the last hole to salvage 71 and is tied for 83rd.
For complete results, FedEx Cup standings and second-round tee times, visit: https://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard