Richy Werenski grabs one-shot lead at 3M Open

Werenski cards an eight-under-par 63 in the first round; Tony Finau lies two shots back.

Richy Werenski chips on the 18th hole during the first round of the 3M Open in Blaine, Minnesota, on Thursday.   -  AP

Richy Werenski, in search of his first PGA Tour victory, birdied the final hole to grab a one-shot lead after the first round of the 3M Open in Blaine, Minnesota, on Thursday while Tony Finau was two shots off the pace.

Werenski, who has one top-10 finish in 12 PGA Tour starts this season, carded an eight-under-par 63 at TPC Twin Cities to sit one shot clear of fellow American Michael Thompson. “I just played solid golf. The tee ball wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be, but found some fairways and took advantage with my irons,” said Werenski, who hit 14 of 18 greens in regulation. “My irons were really good.”

Werenski capped his round in style at the par-five 18th where he reached the green in three and then sunk a 21-inch putt for a closing birdie. Defending champion Matthew Wolff and Finau and were among a group of six golfers two shots off the pace.

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Finau, who finished eighth at the Memorial Tournament last week, started his day on the back nine and reached the turn at two under before warming up with five birdies over an eight-hole stretch that included a bogey at the par-four seventh.

‘Good rhythm’

“I got into a good rhythm out there,” said Finau, who hit 17 of 18 greens in regulation. “The golf course is definitely gettable if you hit it in the fairway. The greens are just the right moisture where they’re not going to spin a lot or bounce over, so you’re kind of just hitting your number and the ball’s staying around that position.”

Englishman Tommy Fleetwood, who completed his quarantine after arriving in the United States two weeks ago, made double-bogey at his closing hole for an even-par 71 in his first start since The Players Championship was cancelled in March.

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World No. 4 Dustin Johnson (78), fresh off a missed cut last week, withdrew with a back injury shortly after a round that came apart over a three-hole stretch where he went bogey, double-bogey and quadruple-bogey.

“I feel like I’m driving it well, but the iron play, first six or seven holes hit it close and then the rest of the day kind of struggled a little bit with iron play,” said Johnson.

PTI adds: 2-over 73 for Arjun Atwal

Arjun Atwal got off to a disappointing start, carding a two-over 73 in the first round.

Playing only his second tournament since returning to action after the coronavirus-forced break, Atwal was tied-120th and needed a solid second round to ensure action over the weekend.

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Atwal hit 10 of the 14 fairways and 11 of the 18 greens, but for a better part of the round he found himself in 12-20 feet range from the cup and did not hole most of them. He also missed a few times from inside 10 feet.

Starting from the 10th, Atwal birdied the 12th from eight feet but ran into rough weather on 17th and 18th as he took penalties on both.

On the Par-3 17th, he ended with a double bogey and on the Par-5 18th he got away with a par. He managed a par on 18th with a 17-foot par putt, which was also his longest putt to the day. In the front nine, Atwal birdied sixth but dropped a bogey on seventh.

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