Kevin Na shot an 8-under-par 62 on Thursday to build a one-shot lead after the first round of the Fort Worth Invitational at Colonial Country Club in Texas.
Charley Hoffman is in lone second place after carding a 63, with former Texas Longhorns star Beau Hossler, Andrew Putnam, Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo and Venezuela’s Jhonattan Vegas tied for third another shot off the pace.
Hoffman recently switched to a new, heavier putter and gained more than two strokes on the greens Thursday.
“It worked today,” he said. “Putting is a fickle part of the game, so hopefully the good mojo continues.”
Steve Stricker, 51, is in seventh place at 5 under. He tied for 23rd at The Players championship two weeks ago and tied for second at the Regions Tradition last week, the first major of the year on the Champions tour. Stricker nearly withdrew after feeling his back crack on the fourth hole Thursday, but he played through the pain and was 7 under par over his final 14 holes.
“I felt my lower back crack right where I had surgery back in 2014, pretty much right on the spot,” Stricker said. “I tried to walk to the green and that wasn’t going so well. It kind of tightened up on me.
“There were a couple times there where I was wondering if I should even be trying, if I should walk off and not risk injuring it some more. It didn’t look or feel very good for a while. I somehow just managed through it. It seemed to kind of loosen up and let go the more I kept playing.”
Many of the top rounds were posted in the morning wave, when the greens were freshly cut and rolling truer than in the afternoon. England’s Justin Rose, who is four shots behind Na and in a tie for eighth place at 4 under, is looking forward to a morning tee time on Friday. He has never missed the cut in four previous starts at Colonial, but he also has yet to finish higher than a tie for 13th.
“I’ve really enjoyed playing this golf course,” Rose, who had four birdies on his back nine Thursday, told the Golf Channel. “It’s a strategic golf course, I was enjoying getting the ball in play off the tee. … Just kind of had to be patient and kind of wait for the putter to warm up. Looking forward to some fresh greens in the morning.”
Also at 4 under is Japan’s Satoshi Kodaira. He began his round on the 10th hole and made his turn at 1 under. Kodaira then holed out for an albatross with a 2 on the par-5 first hole and was 7 under on his closing nine before a double bogey on his final hole.
Third-ranked Jordan Spieth is 1 under, with No. 4 Jon Rahm of Spain one shot better at 2 under. Spieth has a win and two runner-ups in his past three trips to Colonial, but he lost 1.5 strokes to the field putting Thursday, including a three-putt from 9 feet on the sixth hole.
Australia’s Adam Scott, who is trying to get into the top 60 in the world rankings to qualify for next month’s U.S. Open, also carded a 1-under 69 on Thursday. Scott entered the week ranked No. 61.
Aaron Wise, who earned his first career PGA Tour victory at the Byron Nelson last week, is tied for 61st at even par along with reigning U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka and The Players champion Webb Simpson.
Defending event champion Kevin Kisner struggled to a 2-over 72. He is tied for 88th and will need a strong round on Friday to make the cut. So, too, will Colonial member Ryan Palmer (3 over).
NOTES: The Colonial dates back to 1946, making it the longest running event on Tour at the same course. … Scott (2014) is the only international player to win the event in the past 10 years. … Legendary Texan Ben Hogan won the Colonial five times, earning the course the moniker of “Hogan’s Alley.” He successfully defended his title twice, and he remains the only player to win back-to-back at Colonial. … Spieth (2016) and Ben Crenshaw (1990) are the only native Texans to win the event. … The cut last year fell at 4-over-par 144, the highest since 1999.
–Field Level Media