Sebastian Munoz and Chesson Hadley carded matching 63s and will enter Friday’s second round of the John Deere Classic with a share of the lead on 8-under par.
Hadley signed for a bogey-free scorecard featuring eight birdies which featured a pair of back-to-backs on Nos. 8 and 9 and 17 and 18 en route to the co-marquee position.
“It was great. Just from the – I was comfortable early and was able to get out of the gates with a birdie,” said Hadley.
“Hit some really nice shots kind of right off the bat and then I saw a couple putts come off the way I wanted it to, and it was just kind of all clicking today, which was great.
“I thought the golf course was probably in as good a shape as I’ve ever seen it. I don’t know if I’ve played around here where the ball is like really kind of bounding in the fairways. I was walking down No. 10 and you could feel the firmness in your feet.
“The course is in excellent shape. I know it looks like there might be a chance of rain, so hopefully that can stay away from us, but it was just an awesome day, great way to get the tournament started for sure.”
Munoz’s 63 included one blemish against nine birdies, highlighted by five straight closing gains on Nos. 14-18 to join Hadley atop the leaderboard.
“It was a really solid round,” said Munoz. “Hit the ball really good all day. I got hot with the putter coming in.
“I wasn’t making a lot on the front nine, so it was nice to see them go in on the back.
“You know, overall solid golf, make the putts, hit the shots.”
Chez Reavie, Camilo Villegas and Hank Lebioda were tied for third on 7-under par 64, one clear of 2016 winner Ryan Moore (65).
Luke List, Kevin Tway, Cameron Champ, Michael Gellerman, and Doug Ghim were then T7 on 5-under 66, one ahead of a 17-player logjam tied for 12th, which included Kevin Na, Russell Henley, and last week’s winner Cam Davis.
Deere Classic mainstay Zach Johnson was among 23 more deadlocked on 3-under 68, tied for 29th.
“My round today was fairly roller coaster. Got off to — I don’t want to say a blazing start, but I got off to a really good start,” said Johnson, who won the 2012 edition.
“I actually had some putts I didn’t make. In that regard I think it was probably pretty good.
“Had a couple nice saves, then I struggled there kind of in the middle of the round. Really from 12 on, I mean, the bogey on 11 was bad but it wasn’t — I still gave myself an opportunity to save par there.
“From that moment on, I didn’t hit many bad shots. I didn’t mis-hit any shots, I just maybe misjudged wind or yardage. Kind of righted the ship there, gave myself a lot of opportunities coming in, which was good.
“I think all in all it was pretty solid. If I could take out about three swings, three and a half swings, it would have been very solid. But I figured some things out from a fundamentals standpoint and kind of rode it in.”
Daniel Berger, the tournament’s top-ranked name, opened with a 2-under 69, one better than three-time Deere champion Steve Stricker, who overcame a three-bogey first-nine, to card 1-under 70.
“Yeah, it was an early wake-up call for one. I’m not used to getting up at 5:00 in the morning anymore to play, and I kind of played like I was still asleep for a while,” said Stricker.
“You know, righted the ship a little bit. Played well on my second nine, which was the front. Had a number of opportunities on that side. Made three of them but had about three more that were real makeable.
“A little disappointed that I didn’t capitalize on a few more of those coming in especially, and kind of put me behind the 8-ball.
“I was hoping to get off to a better start today. Such as it is I’ll have to come back tomorrow and hopefully put up a good number.”
Grayson Murray and Si Woo Kim both withdrew on Thursday.
2021 John Deere Classic
Top-10 Leaders: Round One
1. Sebastian Munoz -8 (63)
1. Chesson Hadley -8 (63)
3. Chez Reavie -7 (64)
3. Camilo Villegas -7 (64)
3. Hank Lebioda -7 (64)
6. Ryan Moore -6 (65)
7. Luke List -5 (66)
7. Kevin Tway -5 (66)
7. Cameron Champ -5 (66)
7. Michael Gellerman -5 (66)
7. Doug Ghim -5 (66)
12. Kevin Na -4 (67)
12. Russell Henley -4 (67)
12. Cam Davis -4 (67)
29. Zach Johnson -3 (68)
29. Lucas Glover -3 (68)
52. Daniel Berger -2 (69)
75. Alex Noren -1 (70)
75. Rafa Cabrera Bello -1 (70)
75. Steve Stricker -1 (70)
Material from PGA Tour Media & Communications was used to compile report.