Tim Petrovic, Joe Durant, Mathew Goggin, Omar Uresti and Shigeki Maruyama have found themselves in a tie for the lead after the first round of the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic.
The five players shot opening rounds of seven-under-par 65s to finish one shot in front of a group of seven golfers on six under in a Pro-Am format event which also features celebrities and amateurs played on four different courses.
The Classic Club is widely recognised as the toughest of the four courses with winds frequently making conditions difficult but of the leaders. Only Uresti did not play his first round there.
Petrovic benefited from benign conditions after being given an early tee time.
“It was a little cold this morning but as far as wind was concerned, conditions were absolutely perfect,” he said. “There wasn’t any wind probably until our 15th hole. The wind didn’t really come up, which was nice.”
It was a far cry from the final round of last year’s event, where the final group took just over six hours to finish, playing in winds that reached 40 mph.
Starting on the 10th, Petrovic birdied four of his six holes to card a 31 on the back nine.
After waiting for about 40 minutes for four groups to tee off due to a backup on the first, he bogeyed the second but picked up three more birdies to get back on track.
“I really didn’t miss a beat,” Petrovic added. “I hit all the shots I wanted to hit. I hit every shot I wanted to hit on the first three or four holes.”
Durant also felt conditions were conducive to good scoring.
“We were expecting pretty heavy winds today and it never really materialised,” said Durant, who won the event in 2001, setting a tournament record of 36-under-par. That was a nice surprise.”
Uresti played his first round at the Arnold Palmer Private Course at PGA West, finishing with seven birdies and no bogeys – the only one of the leaders not to drop a shot.
“It was actually a pretty perfect start on the round,” Uresti said. “I made a bunch of good putts so that was a really good feeling and I just was able to kind of keep it going doing that.”
The Palmer course is considered one of the easier of the four but Uresti and Lee Janzen were the only golfers in the top 12 who played there.
SilverRock Resort is new to the rotation and it proved a trickier proposition with Jason Bohn and Robert Gamez shooting the lowest scores with rounds of 66.
“The golf course is in great shape for a new golf course,” Gamez said.
“The greens are a little bit rough in some spots and they were a little bit slower than probably the rest of the greens will be around the rest of the golf courses. But it was in great shape.”
Many of the players did not have time to play a practice round at SilverRock and will be seeing it for the first time during the tournament.
“It looks like it could be similar to (Classic Club) in the fact that if you get some wind, it’s very exposed,” Goggin said.
“I imagine still the scoring will be quite good there, but it’s different to years gone past where now we really have four pretty strong golf courses.”
There are 18 golfers within two strokes of the lead and all but 17 of the 128-player field were at par or better after the first round.
Among those over par were David Duval, Robert Allenby, Chad Campbell and Mercedes Championship winner Daniel Chopra.
Defending champion Charley Hoffman is three shots back after shooting a 68 at SilverRock.