Alex Noren of Sweden has won 11 times as a pro, but never on the PGA Tour, something he would like to change this week.
The 41-year-old Noren carded a 10-under-par 61 to take a two-stroke lead over Dylan Wu, Vince Whaley, Robert Garrigus and D.J. Trahan in the first round of the Butterfield Bermuda Championship at Port Royal Golf Course in Southampton, Bermuda.
Play was halted late in the day by darkness with nine players still on the course, and they will return Friday morning to complete their rounds before the start of round two.
“It was quite easy conditions and there’s a lot of wedges out there,” said Noren, who bested his previous PGA Tour best score of 63, which he shot in the second round of the 2022 AT&T Byron Nelson. “But I improved the wedges a lot coming from Japan (two weeks ago), where I struggled with them. So I’m very, very happy. It was great to get to 10-under. It was a long time ago that I had a really low round like this one.
“It felt great last month when I tied for third in Las Vegas, and I had a chance to win but couldn’t do it. But at least it gave me a good setup with my card for next year and it just improved my game, and now I can get back to playing in the big tournaments.”
Noren, whose last victory came in the 2018 HNA Open de France, started on the back nine, where he made five birdies, and he added six more coming home on the front, while his only bogey come on the fifth hole.
Wu eagled the 17th hole to go along with six birdies in his bogey-free 63, which Whaley matched with eight birdies in another bogey-free round, while Trahan had five of his nine birdies a lone bogey coming home on the front nine, and Garrigus made five of his eight birdies on the back nine in another bogey-free round.
“My short game was perfect today, which I’ve been working on it a little bit, but I can’t say I’ve been working really hard,” said Garrigus, who got into the field as an alternate when Erik van Rooyen of South Africa, who won the World Wide Technology Championship last Sunday at El Cardonal at Diamante in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
“I’ve only played a couple of times in the last few weeks, maybe a month, so I was just coming out to shake the rust off and have a good time today, and I guess I did. It was a lot of fun.”
Stewart Cink, who won the 2009 Open Championship at Turnberry Resort in Scotland among his 15 pro victories, collected seven birdies in a bogey-free 64 and is in a huge tie for sixth with Davis Riley, who eagled the 17th hole and had seven birdies; Ryan Brehm, who made five of his eight birdies on the front nine; Ryan Gerard, who amassed 10 birdies; Satoshi Kodaira of Japan, who had seven birdies in a bogey-free round; Austin Smotherman, who matched Kodaira with seven birdies and no bogeys; D.A. Points, who eagled No. 4 added seven birdies, and Matti Schmid of Germany, who was yet another player with seven birdies and no bogeys.
Brendon Todd, the 2019 Bermuda champion, is tied for 14th at 65, while 2021 winner Lucas Herbert shot 66 and is tied for 26th, and 2020 champ Brian Gay had seven birdies in a 67 and is tied for 33rd a 67.
Seamus Power of Ireland was unable to defend the title from second PGA Tour victory and seventh at a professional as he continues to deal with a hip injury.
This is the sixth of seven events on the PGA Tour’s inaugural Fall Series, which will conclude next week with the RSM Classic on the Seaside Course at Sea Island Golf Club in St. Simons, Ga.
For complete results and second-round tee times, visit: https://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard