Marc Leishman leads AT&T Byron Nelson after career-best 61
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 19/05/18 12:21am
Marc Leishman defied sweltering conditions in Dallas as he posted the lowest round of his PGA Tour career to open up a three-shot lead on day one of the AT&T Byron Nelson.
Leishman fired a stunning 10-under 61 at the Trinity Forest Golf Club, handing in a flawless card featuring two eagles and six birdies as he complimented a precise tee-to-green game with a red-hot putter.
The Australian was a perfect 14 from 14 in fairways hit, and his opening hole set the tone for his round as he hit a superb 236-yard second to three feet and rolled in the putt for eagle.
The 34-year-old, currenly 33rd in the FedExCup standings after recording five top-10s from his 13 starts, picked up further shots at the sixth and seventh as he coasted to the turn in 32, but even better was to follow on the back nine.
Leishman's iron play was in good order as he set up three birdies in a row from the 10th, and he added a second eagle at the 14th following another delightful long-iron to 12 feet and a perfect putt.
He found the target again from 10 feet at the 17th, and he confidently rattled in a testing par putt on the final green to keep a bogey off his card and end the day three clear of JJ Spaun and a rejuvenated Jimmy Walker.
"It was certainly one of the best driving days I've had," said Leishman. "I hit everything, every fairway, and that's important around here. The fairways are generous, but you still have to hit them.
"My iron play was great and then didn't feel like I was having to hit too many chip shots. The putter was hot, so that combination is a nice way to start the tournament and shoot a low round."
Spaun started at the 10th and was only one under for the day with eight to play, but he reeled off six birdies in a sparkling seven-hole stretch to set the early clubhouse target at seven under par.
He was joined in a share of second by Walker, who was joint runner-up at last week's Players Championship and continued his good form in Dallas as he matched Leishman's eagle at the first and capped an outward 31 with a 35-foot putt for birdie at the ninth.
Walker picked up further shots at the 14th and 16th, and he came within inches of an astonishing eagle at the last when his second from an awkward lie on the lip of a fairway bunker pitched to the left of the green and caught the slope towards the hole - his ball running narrowly wide of the cup and settling 12 feet away.
The former PGA champion just misread the chance for birdie as he settled for a 64 which left him one ahead of several players on six under par, including Arnold Palmer's grandson, Sam Saunders.
Graeme McDowell also prospered in the conditions as he opened with a 67 blighted by bogeys at the ninth and 18th, but playing partner and Trinity Forest member Jordan Spieth endured another day of frustration on the greens as he returned a two-under 69.
But two-time champion Sergio Garcia needs to go low on Friday to make it to the weekend after the Spaniard mixed two birdies with three bogeys in a disappointing 72.