May 18, 2018 / 1:04 AM / 9 months ago

Golf: Leishman fires career-low 61 to lead Byron Nelson

(Reuters) - Australian Marc Leishman fired a career-low 61 for a three-shot lead after the first round of the AT&T Byron Nelson at its new home in Dallas on Thursday while local favorite Jordan Spieth failed to make a move.

May 17, 2018; Dallas, TX, USA; Marc Leishman plays his shot from the 18th tee during the first round of the AT&T Byron Nelson golf tournament at Trinity Forest Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

World number 16 Leishman, buoyed by a pair of eagles at the links-style Trinity Forest Golf Club, went bogey-free through a 10-under round to sit three shots clear of Americans J.J. Spaun and Jimmy Walker.

Leishman took kindly to the tournament’s new venue after enjoying six top-15 finishes in nine starts at its previous home at the TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas.

“I would’ve been this place’s harshest critic just because I love that other place at Las Colinas,” Leishman said. “But I got here and looked out past the clubhouse and thought, ‘This is going to be really good.’

“I enjoyed it today.”

Leishman could not have asked for a better start to his round as his approach from 237 yards at the par-five first hole stopped three feet from the cup, allowing him a tap-in eagle that set the stage for a memorable day.

The three-times PGA Tour winner, whose previous career-low was 62, then made birdies at the sixth and seventh holes before a scorching trip around the back nine that included four birdies and an eagle at the par-five 14th.

Spaun, who started on the 10th, made six birdies over a stunning seven-hole stretch of his back nine to sit with Walker one clear of a pack of eight that included Mexico’s Abraham Ancer and Americans Sam Saunders and Jonathan Byrd.

World number three Spieth (69), the highest-ranked player in the field, did well to erase a bogey at the par-four fifth with birdies at seven and eight but only had one more birdie the rest of the way and was in a share of 57th place.

The Dallas native, seeking his first win this year, would love it to be at his home-town this week.

“It was about as easy tee to green as I’ve ever seen this place,” Spieth said. “You know, the ball was running a lot, you

didn’t have to hit a whole lot of club off the tees and without the wind. That’s normally the defense of the golf course.

“So, not surprised to see a low round. 10-under is an incredible round anyway for Marc. Not surprised to see low scores. Wish I got more out of it, honestly.”

Slideshow (2 Images)

Former U.S. Masters champion Adam Scott, seeking his first PGA Tour win since 2016, mixed six birdies with two bogeys to reach four-under and a share of 23rd.

Japanese world number nine Hideki Matsuyama and Spanish world number 14 Sergio Garcia carded matching one-over 72s to sit in a distant share of 120th place.

Defending champion Billy Horschel, who started on the back nine, had an eagle at the par-five 14th en route to a three-under 68 that left him seven shots back.

Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto and writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by Ian Ransom

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