Sepp Straka of Austria opened with a bogey-free 63 and was the surprise leader after day one of the Men’s Olympics Golf Competition.
The Austrian finished his first day at Kasumigaseki Country Club with eight birdies, including four gains over his final six holes to secure the 18-hole lead on 8-under par, one clear of Jazz Janewattananond of Thailand, who shot 64.
“Probably towards the end a little bit, the mental side and focus kind of faded away from me,” said Straka, who missed the cut in six of his last seven events.
“So that’s something that I need to put together for the rest of the week.”
Straka’s playing partner, Thomas Pieters, was next on 6 under following a bogey-free 65 which featured an eagle on the par-4 11th hole.
“I kind of didn’t expect this today,” Pieters said.
“I felt horrible this morning even when I woke up, so maybe it’s just because I wasn’t thinking about bad shots or places not to hit it. My caddie told me, ‘Hit it there,’ and I did. I kept it simple.”
The Belgian was tied for third with Mexico’s Carlos Ortiz, who racked up seven birdies against one bogey.
Venezuala’s Jhonatton Vegas, Dane Joachim Hansen and Juvic Pagunsan of the Philippines rounded out the top-5 leaders at 66.
England’s Paul Casey headlined a group of four more players tied for eighth at 67.
Norway’s Viktor Hovland and Americans Xander Schauffele and Patrick Reed were among a logjam of eight players at 68.
Reed was a last-minute replacement when Bryson DeChambeau withdrew after testing positive for COVID-19.
Reed, who didn’t arrive at the course until Wednesday afternoon, relied on adrenaline.
“Adrenaline got me going early on today, but really the body hung in there a lot better than I expected,” said Reed.
“The swing actually held in there all day. A couple of mistakes out there, not really knowing spots to hit. But besides that, it wasn’t too bad.”
Open champion Collin Morikawa and Rory McIlroy were one further back at 69 while Justin Thomas was even-par 71 after 18 holes of par golf.
“I would love to have some kind of old useless club that I could break over my knee right now,” said Thomas, who missed several makeable birdie putts.
Tokyo 2020 Olympics
Round-1 Leaderboard: Top-10
Pos-Player-To Par (Rd 1)
1. Sepp Straka -8 (63)
2. Jazz Janewattananond -7 (64)
3. Thomas Pieters -6 (65)
3. Carlos Ortiz -6 (65)
5. Jhonatton Vegas -5 (66)
5. Joachim Hansen -5 (66)
5. Juvic Pagunsan -5 (66)
8. Alex Noren -4 (67)
8. Sebastian Munoz -4 (67)
8. Paul Casey -4 (67)
8. Anirban Lahiri -4 (67)
Pos-Player-To Par (Rd 1)
12. Viktor Hovland -3 (68)
12. Xander Schauffele -3 (68)
12. Patrick Reed -3 (68)
20. Collin Morikawa -2 (69)
20. Rory McIlroy -2 (69)
20. Hideki Matsuyama -2 (69)
31. Shane Lowry -1 (70)
31. Joaquin Niemann -1 (70)
31. Marc Leishman -1 (70)
31. Tommy Fleetwood -1 (70)
41. Cameron Smith E (71)
41. Justin Thomas E (71)
PGA Tour Media press releases, post-round notes, transcripts, and statistics were used to compile this report.