Denny McCarthy’s success as an amateur and on the Web.com Tour finally translated into a little of the same on the PGA Tour.
The 26-year-old bounced back from a double bogey on the fourth hole to shoot 8-under-par 63 and take a one-stroke lead over Tyler Duncan and Tom Hoge after the first round of the AT&T Byron Nelson at Trinity Forest Golf Club https://trinityforestgc.com in Dallas.
“Making that double bogey … kind of calmed me down in a way,” said McCarthy, who captured the 2018 Web.com Tour Championship, but has only two top-10 finishes this year on the big tour while missing the cut seven times in 17 starts. “Timid swing off the tee, and from there on out, I told myself I was just going to play really carefree and really aggressive … have fun with it today, just let it go.
“I’ve been putting great the last couple months. Kind of matched up the ball-striking with the putting today. … I’ve kind of been looking for a round like this just to kind of get me going.”
McCarthy, who won the 2015 Porter Cup, the Maryland Open three times and the Maryland Amateur twice in addition to playing in the World Amateur Championship and the Walker Cup before turning pro, turned it around after a bad drive led to his double-bogey 6 at No. 4.
After stabilizing with a par on the fifth hole, McCarthy reeled off five straight birdies through No. 10 before making five more birdies in six holes through the 17th hole while shooting 6-under 29 on the back nine.
Duncan, who has never won as a pro, holed out from 57 yards on the fifth hole for an eagle en route to a 64 that was equaled by a bogey-free round from Hoge, whose only pro victory came in the 2011 Canadian Tour Players Cup on the PGA Tour Canada.
Third-ranked Brooks Kopeka, who will defend his title in the PGA Championship next week at Bethpage Black, collected eight birdies in a 65 and is in a tie for fourth with Matt Jones of Australia, Jonas Blixt of Sweden, Troy Merritt, Chad Campbell, Kramer Hickock, Shawn Stefani, Sung Kang of South Korea and Matt Every.
Defending champion Aaron Wise, the 2018 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, is tied for 55th at 69.
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