Charles Howell III opened with a bogey-free 64 and will take a two-shot lead into the second round of the RSM Classic.
The 39-year old Georgian finished his first day at Sea Island’s Plantation Course with 10 pars and eight birdies, highlighted by five gains over an eight-hole stretch on Nos. 8-13 to secure the marquee position after round one.
“We used to own a house here, so spent quite a bit of time here,” said Howell when asked about his playing experience on the Sea Island Resort’s courses.
“I’ve played the golf courses enough, I think it’s more about playing them in tournament shape, so to speak, with the greens this speed. The rough is what it is, so you’re trying to kind of gauge that a little bit.
“But yeah, it’s always fun to watch a golf course change and get right up to tournament time. Holy cow, I’ve never seen the greens quite this fast and this, so it does change quite a bit.”
Just two off the pace was Austin Cook, who finished the first round of his title defense with a clean card comprised of 11 pars and seven birdies, including two-straight gains at the close to reach 6-under par alongside JJ Spaun.
A group of three players were one further back at 5 under, including tournament host Davis Love III, who signed for card with seven birdies against two bogeys. Aaron Baddeley and Chase Wright were the others tied for fourth.
THE RSM CLASSIC
TOP 5 LEADERS: ROUND ONE
1. Charles Howell III -8
2. Austin Cook -6
2. JJ Spaun -6
4. Davis Love III -5
4. Aaron Baddeley -5
4. Chase Wright -5
VIDEO: ROUND-ONE HIGHLIGHTS