ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Chris Kirk holed an 18-foot putt for eagle on his final hole for a 9-under 63 and a one-shot lead Thursday in the RSM Classic.
“I kind of hit my putter on the fringe a little bit and I wasn’t sure it was going to get there, but that was just kind of the day that it was,” Kirk said. “Even when I thought it wasn’t quite going to work out, it still went in the middle of the hole.”
The seven lowest scores of the opening round came on the Plantation Course during a picturesque afternoon on the Golden Isles. Sporting a University of Georgia hat Thursday, Kirk won at Sea Island four years ago for the second of his four PGA Tour victories.
“It’s a big Georgia territory out here on St. Simons,” Kirk said. “Hopefully, my hat will bring me some luck the rest of the week.”
The tournament is the final PGA Tour event of the calendar year, and Kirk is sorting out equipment changes.
“I’m still trying to get it all worked out and figure out what I want to do going forward,” Kirk said. “But keep shooting 9 under, so I won’t have to worry about it too much.”
Joel Dahmen had a 64.
“I think it played a little easier today,” Dahmen said. “The wind was down, greens were a little softer over here on the Plantation side. But just kept the ball in front of me and made a bunch of 8- to 10-footers.
“I’ve been rolling it pretty good,” Swafford said. “Took some time off, which was nice, after China. I was kind of frustrated with the golf a little bit. Took a little time off and got back into it. Something just kind of started clicking, but knew I don’t have to be crazy aggressive and just give myself a chance.”
Sea Island resident Hudson Swafford was at 65 with Jason Kokrak and Brian Gay.
Ben Silverman of Thornhill, Ont., was at 67, Nick Taylor of Abbotsford, B.C., finished with a 68, David Hearn of Brantford, Ont., and Corey Conners of Listowel, Ont., were 3 under and defending champion Mac Hughes of Dundas, Ont., shot an even-par 70.
“I feel like I’ve been rolling it pretty good,” Swafford said. “Took some time off, which was nice, after China. I was kind of frustrated with the golf a little bit. Took a little time off and got back into it. Something just kind of started clicking, but knew I don’t have to be crazy aggressive and just give myself a chance.”
He played alongside fellow former Georgia players Bubba Watson and Brian Harman.
“We are right in the heart of Dawgs’ territory, mine and Harman’s backyard, so it’s kind of nice,” Swafford said.
Though, his caddie wore an Auburn shirt.
“We don’t need to talk about that,” said Swafford, not needing to be reminded that Auburn beat Georgia in football last week.
Nick Watney and Brice Garnett each had a 5-under 65 on the Seaside Course, which will be used for the final two rounds.
Harman shot 69, and Watson had a 71.