The Associated PressIRVING, Texas (AP) — Brooks Koepka leaned in for a closer look at his ball buried in deep rough when a critter he couldn’t identify caused him to jump back with a bit of a startled look.
His best guesses were a frog or rat, though he was too disoriented to be sure. It definitely wasn’t a birdie, because Koepka was on his way to finishing with two straight bogeys after sharing the lead late in his opening round of the AT&T Byron Nelson on Thursday.
A year after losing to Sergio Garcia in a playoff at the TPC Four Seasons, Koepka settled for a 3-under 67 and trailed co-leaders James Hahn and Ricky Barnes by three shots.
“It jumped out, and I didn’t know what was going on, freaked me out,” said Koepka, who needed help from a bevy of tournament volunteers and fans to find his ball while hitting two shots out of the thick grass and just missing a chip that would have saved par on the ninth hole, his last.
“I was so in amazement of what just happened, whether it jumped out, scared me. I couldn’t see it because it ran underneath the grass again.”
Matt Kuchar, Jhonattan Vegas, Jason Kokrak and Cameron Tringale shot 66, and top-ranked Dustin Johnson topped the group at 67, a stroke ahead of fourth-ranked Jason Day and Jordan Spieth, the No. 6 player competing in his hometown event.
Masters and defending Nelson champion Garcia, ranked fifth, had three bogeys on the front nine and just one birdie in a 73 that left him tied for 93rd.
The event is the last at TPC Four Seasons, ending the tournament’s 35-year run in Irving. The tournament will move to the new links-style Trinity Forest Golf Club south of downtown Dallas next year.
Tringale was the only player with a lower score than Johnson in a blustery afternoon round, while Hahn and Barnes played in slightly calmer conditions in the morning.
“It was blowing hard, and it was gusty,” said Johnson, who has four top-10 finishes in seven previous Nelsons. “I thought it was very difficult to judge the wind and control the ball. Felt like there were a lot of times I hit really good shots that didn’t end up in good spots.”
Thompson leads Kingsmill
WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (AP) — Lexi Thompson had six birdies in a seven-hole stretch and finished with a 6-under 65 on Thursday to take the first-round lead in the Kingsmill Championship.
Playing her third tournament since losing the ANA Inspiration in a playoff after being penalized four strokes for a rules violation that a TV viewer spotted, Thompson had a one-stroke lead over U.S. Solheim Cup teammates Gerina Piller and Brittany Lincicome and young American Angel Yin.