HILTON HEAD ISLAND – Luke Donald shot a 5-under-par 66 in the opening round of the RBC Heritage, joining former European Tour player Branden Grace in a tie for first Thursday.
Donald carded four birdies on the front nine and a lone bogey on the par-4 No. 8, before finishing bogey-free on the back nine on a slightly cool and windy day at Harbour Town Golf Links.
“Hit a lot of greens, a lot of fairways,” Donald said. “I felt that way I didn’t have to work to hard to scramble, which at time you can around this place.”
“But it was one of those good, solid rounds.”
Grace, who joined the PGA Tour this year, tallied six birdies in all, and briefly held a one-shot lead after a birdie on No. 15 put him at 6-under.
He then bogeyed the 434-yard, par-4 16th hole to drop back into a tie for first.
Matt Kuchar, winner of the Heritage in 2014, finished the day at 4-under-par 67 and in a four-way tie for third with Sweden’s David Lingmerth, Tony Finau and Australia’s Jason Day.
Kuchar had a bogey-free round one effort and carded four birdies in all — two each on the front and back nine.
“It’s windy. It’s tricky,” Kuchar said of the conditions Thursday. “The hard thing about this golf course when it’s windy is sometimes it’s so hard to feel.”
“If you keep the ball below the trees, it may not be affected much. But if you get the ball above the tree line the wind can really take over. A bogey-free round in these conditions was great playing.”
Day, currently ranked No. 1 in the World Golf Ranking, was tied for first at 5-under heading to No. 18, but was forced to take a penalty after his second shot landed in the front center greenside bunker and was not playable.
He finished the hole with his only bogey of the day.
Savannah native Brian Harman started strong with back-to-back birdies on Nos. 1 and 2, and had four total in the opening round, but stumbled at times with the difficult conditions.
Harman finished tied for 86th at 2-over-par 73, while carding four bogeys and a double bogey on No. 14.
“The golf course is playing tough and the greens are firm,” Harman said. “I didn’t finish the way I wanted to today, but I still did some ok stuff out there.”
“The wind, when you’re amongst those trees, it’s tough to judge the the wind. Sometimes it seems like it’s blowing pretty hard and sometimes it will kind of lay down. There’s a little bit of luck involved there, but you just gotta be able to flight your ball to where the wind doesn’t affect it as much.”
RBC Heritage Tee Times
Jerry Kelly, Spencer Levin, Chad Collins
Boo Weekley, Jason Gore, Roberto Castro
Zac Blair, Andres Gonzales, Sung Kang
Danny Lee, Ben Crane, Ernie Els
Tony Finau, Ben Martin, Mike Weird
Vaughn Taylor, Seung-Yul Noh, Vijay Singh
Matt Jones, Stuart Appleby, Paul Casey
Brendan Steele, Ricky Barnes, Steve Wheatcroft
Carl Pettersson, Tyrone Van Aswegen, Mark Hubbard
Colt Knost, Justin Hicks, Carlos Ortiz
Hiroshi Iwata, Tyler Aldridge, Ryan Ruffels
Shawn Stefani, Francesco Molinari, Si Woo Kim
Tommy Gainey, Will MacKenzie, Hudson Swafford
Kyle Stanley, Lucas Glover, Luke List
Russell Knox, Brendon Todd, Harris English
Chris Kirk, John Senden, Rory Sabbatini
Kevin Kisner, Justin Thomas, Zach Johnson
Jason Dufner, Davis Love III, Matt Kuchar
Jason Bohn, Chad Campbell, Jamie Lovemark
Ken Duke, Brendon de Jonge, William McGirt
George McNeill, Jason Kokrak, Will Wilcox
Sam Saunders, Wes Roach, Bronson Burgoon
Ian Poulter, Graham DeLaet, Kevin Chappell
Mark Wilson, Adam Hadwin, Scott Pinckney
Bryce Molder, Kyle Reifers, Brett Stegmaier
David Lingmerth, Camilo Villegas, Branden Grace
Jim Herman, Chesson Hadley, Justin Leonard
Graeme McDowell, Billy Horschel, Webb Simpson
Jason Day, Brandt Snedeker, Bill Haas
Robert Allenby, Erik Compton, Matthew Fitzpatrick
Scott Brown, Aaron Baddeley, Chris Stroud
Marc Leishman, Morgan Hoffman, Whee Kim
Michael Kim, Bryson DeChambeau, Kelly Mitchum
Sean O’Hair, David Hearn, Greg Owen
Kevin Na, Ryan Palmer, Charles Howell III
Jeff Overton, Steve Marino, Blayne Barber
Fabian Gomez, Robert Streb, Luke Donald
Peter Malnati, J.J. Henry, Brian Harman
James Hahn, David Toms, Stewart Cink
Nick Taylor, Geoff Ogilvy, Russell Henley
Charley Hoffman, Brian Gay, K.J. Choi
Jon Curran, Patton Kizzire, Harold Varner III
Daniel Summerhays, Derek Fathauer, Thongchai Jaidee
Johnson Wagner, Chez Reavie, Jeff Maggert