Koepka Shoots 62, Leads WGC-St. Jude by 2

For Brooks Koepka, it’s been a season to forget, so far.

However, sixth-ranked and defending champion Koepka tied his career-low round with an 8-under-par 62 in windy, overcast conditions to take a two-stroke lead over Rickie Fowler and Brendon Todd after the first round of the WGC-St. Jude FedEx Invitational at TPC Southwind in Memphis, Tenn.

“I worked real hard over the weekend and in the last few days,” said Koepka, who missed the cut in two of his last three starts and has only one top-10 finish this season. “We put in a lot of work and found something, and it feels good again.

“Last week, I saw some good signs that things were coming back, and now everything has started to click again. It seems like everything is back to normal and I just have to go out and do it. It’s nice to see some a good result.”

Koepka, who also has battled a left knee injury after undergoing surgery late last year, birdied the first four holes and collected nine birdies in all, making his only bogey on the seventh hole.

Much of the field took advantage of the soft conditions and lift, clean and place rules were in effect for balls in the fairway after overnight rain.

Fowler, from Murrieta, also has been struggling this season but made his seventh birdie with a 30-foot putt from off the green on the eighth hole as he finished his 64 on the front nine.

“It was nice to have ball in hand so I could putt that one rather than chip it,” said Fowler, who has only two top-10 results this season, both in January. “Otherwise, it would have been 50-50 to chip or putt it. Being able to putt made it a lot easier.

“The scores were good, but it was a little tough out there with the wind. This is a golf course where you have to hit a lot of good shots. I’m happy to get off to a good start today and just have to keep things going.”

Said Todd, one of three two-time winners on the PGA Tour this season who had seven birdies in his 64: “I feel like I’ve gained a lot of confidence with the way I’ve played over the last year. … Guys were making a lot of birdies out there because of the course conditions and I made my share.

“I enjoy this course and hope I can go low again the next three days.”

Sung Kang of South Korea shot 65 and is solo third, while third-ranked Justin Thomas posted a 66 and is tied for fourth with Matt Kuchar, Chez Reavie and Max Homa of Valencia and Cal.

Seventh-ranked Bryson DeChambeau of Clovis finished at 67 and is tied for ninth with Phil Mickelson, Abraham Ancer of Mexico, Sergio Garcia of Spain, Sungjae Im of South Korea and Viktor Hovland of Norway.

Fourth-ranked Webb Simpson and fifth-ranked Dustin Johnson both totaled 69 and are in a tie for 27th, top-ranked Jon Rahm of Spain is tied for 37th after a 70, eighth-ranked Patrick Reed shot 71 and is in a tie for 46th, while second-ranked Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland and 10th-ranked Patrick Cantlay of Los Alamitos and UCLA are in a tie for 67th at 73.

For complete results, visit https://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard.html

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