Viktor Hovland sets early pace at RBC Heritage

Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Network

Viktor Hovland shot a bogey-free, 7-under-par 64 to take the first-round lead at the RBC Heritage on Thursday in Hilton Head Island, S.C.

Hovland started on the back nine at Harbour Town Golf Links, and four of his seven birdies came over his final seven holes, including back-to-back at the par-4 eighth and ninth holes to close his round.

Play was suspended due to darkness with six golfers still on the course thanks to an 84-minute delay for inclement weather earlier in the day. That included two players, Jimmy Walker and England’s Aaron Rai, a shot behind Hovland at 6 under with two and three holes left to play, respectively. Brian Harman was tied with them after shooting a 6-under 65.

Hovland tied for seventh at the Masters last week, though he failed to break 70 after carding a 65 in the opening round.

“Especially last week, I didn’t putt it as good the last three rounds last week as I did the first round, which obviously is hard to do,” Hovland said. “I hit it okay, but I didn’t hit it as great as I did the first round. But I took a big lesson from not short-siding myself as much last week because out there on that golf course on some of those pins, I got a little too greedy and I missed it in the wrong spots, and I just can’t allow myself to do that.

“So this week I’m just trying to play a bit more, not conservatively, but making sure that I hit more greens, center of the greens, and can kind of lean on my putter.”

Harman posted six birdies without a bogey for his 65. After coming off a missed cut at the Masters in which he went 7 over par for the first two rounds, Harman revealed how he put the poor showing behind him.

“I went and I killed a pig Friday night at my farm, and I killed a turkey Saturday morning,” Harman said. “I didn’t hit any balls until I got here Tuesday.”

Tied for fifth at 5-under 66 were Joel Dahmen, Scott Stallings, Zach Johnson, South Korea’s Sungjae Im and Englishmen Matt Fitzpatrick and Justin Rose. Dahmen and Johnson went bogey-free — Johnson made three straight birdies late in his round — while Rose recovered from bogeying each of his first two holes by making seven birdies.

Rickie Fowler birdied the eighth and ninth holes coming in to polish off a 4-under 67, tying him for 11th with Xander Schauffele, Andrew Putnam and Wyndham Clark.

Defending champion Jordan Spieth was part of a large tie at 3-under 68 with 2021 tournament champ Stewart Cink and World No. 2 Scottie Scheffler.

Masters champion and World No. 1 Jon Rahm of Spain made three straight bogeys at Nos. 6-8 but salvaged a 1-over 72 to open the tournament.

–Field Level Media

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