Streb leads after low-scoring day in CJ Cup at Summit
LAS VEGAS (AP) – Robert Streb went from putts to whether he would ever miss the CJ Cup at Summit. This led to his best start to the tournament and lowest score on the PGA Tour.
And that day at the Summit Club, his 11-under-61 was only good for a one-shot lead.
World-class terrain illuminated a beautiful, defenseless golf course overlooking the Las Vegas Strip. The result was the lowest average score – 68.95 – for the first round of the PGA Tour all year.
Streb had 10 birdies and an eagle and led in one swoop over Keith Mitchell, who had more birdies than leaves by tying his low lap with a 62. Harry Higgs was at 64, while the squad at 65 included Sergio Garcia and Viktor Hovland.
Such a score under ideal conditions was what players expected on Tom Fazio’s desert course, and Streb was quick to prove it.
He started with a pair of 6-foot birdie putts and followed with a 12-foot eagle. When he left the sixth hole of par 5 after a long putt of two for a birdie, he was already 7 under par.
âI’ve never had a start like this so it was kind of fun,â Streb said. âI was trying to stay in the moment as best I could, and I don’t know. You just feel like you can start aiming for things. Things seemed to be going my way.
Streb beat his previous lowest score on the PGA Tour by two strokes, one of those 63 from the PGA Championship at Baltusrol in the rain in 2016.
But while the low scores were plentiful – 25 players at 67 or less – issues also arose if anything left the emerald green fairways.
Consider how it must have felt for Justin Rose. Two holes in the tournament, he was already 10 strokes behind.
Rose did not make it to the second par 3 green in a native area made up mostly of boulders and sand. He tried to play it and the bullet ricocheted off a stone wall in a desert bush. His only option was to take a penalty – but where? Coming back to a line with the hole, he found an area sparse enough only to push it back towards the wall and more rocks. After another drop in penalty, he went back and forth for a quadruple bogey 7.
It’s not like Rose is alone in her struggles. Dustin Johnson, trying to avoid only his second winless year in 14 years on the PGA Tour, tried to drive the 12th green and found himself in the wilderness. He took a fall 50 yards behind him in a lot for the next mansion and did a double bogey. He managed his only birdie on the nine back at the closing hole par 5 for a 74.
Justin Thomas got off to a slow start, then shifted into reverse when he tried to play out of the desert and kept hitting the rocks. One shot went to 25 feet. Another went 30 yards in such a bad lie he had to take a penalty. In addition, his corner had a gash in his face and a rules official had to go get a replacement in his car.
Thomas birdied his last three holes for a 69.
Rory McIlroy was making his move until he entered the desert, slamming him onto rocks, resulting in a penalty drop and a triple bogey. He had to settle for a 68.
âThis is one of those courses where if you keep it in play, obviously it’s very marked,â said McIlroy. âBut you hit a couple just off line and you get a bad break or a little bit unlucky, you can do a lot and I did it on 17. But the other 17 holes were good.
All 18 holes were good for Mitchell, at least at the Summit Club. He missed the cup last week at TPC Summerlin and then spent five days working harder than most visitors to Las Vegas, and it helped that coach Ramon Bescansa was in town.
Mitchell birdied 15 feet in the third par 5 and was on his way. He called with two more birdies from around that range and never gave up.
âWhen it happened with good speed, I felt I had a chance today,â he said.
A good putting goes a long way on any course. Keeping it on the grass on a course built in the desert also helps.
âIf you hit the fairways, you have a good chance. It’s that simple, âMitchell said. âBecause if you miss the fairways the desert is a big penalty. After that it just depends on luck. â¦ If you don’t mind here, it can bite you.
Defending champion Jason Kokrak probably wished he was back in Shadow Creek. He opened with a 77.
This is the second year in a row that the CJ Cup has left South Korea for Las Vegas due to the pandemic.