Scott Piercy began the new PGA Tour season by pouring in putts and setting the course record at Silverado, a 10-under-par 62 for a two-shot lead Thursday in the Safeway Open.
Conditions in Napa were practically perfect in the morning, and Piercy took advantage. He made 12 birdies, only three of them from inside 10 feet, and he even missed a pair of birdie chances from inside eight feet.
He wasn’t alone in attacking Silverado.
Paul Casey, coming off a pair of runner-up finishes in the FedEx Cup playoffs that signaled a return to form, birdied his last three holes for a 64. Patton Kizzire also shot a 64.
Jon Rahm of Spain, who earned his PGA Tour card from sponsor exemptions last season after wrapping up his college career at Arizona State, began his PGA Tour career as a member in fine fashion. He made a hole-in-one — the first one of his life — on his second hole, the par-three 11th. His seven-iron from 173 yards flew straight into the cup.
“Very special moment,” Rahm said. “It was hard to believe. I actually thought it hit inside the hole and bounced out.”
Phil Mickelson , playing a domestic PGA Tour event in the fall for the first time in a decade, played in the afternoon and made the turn in one under.
Mickelson and Casey have had the best calendar years without winning based on the world ranking points they have earned. Mickelson is playing his final tournament of 2016, while Casey plans to play the next two in Asia before taking off the rest of the year.
Pak bids adieu at LPGA event in South Korea
Se Ri Pak ended her Hall of Fame career in tears Thursday in front of her adoring home fans in the LPGA KEB HanaBank Championship in Incheon, South Korea.
Overcome at the end of the sunny afternoon at Sky 72, Pak cried nearly throughout a retirement ceremony on the 18th hole. The Little Angels children’s choir sang, players wore “SE RI” hats and farewell messages were played in a video montage.
It mattered little to the fans and players, many of them drawn to golf by Pak, that she shot an eight-over 80 and was tied for last — 15 strokes behind leader Alison Lee — before withdrawing.
Hampered by left shoulder problems, the 39-year-old Pak said in March that this season would be her last and she stepped away as planned after the first round of the tour’s lone South Korean event.
Pak won 25 LPGA Tour titles — the last in 2010 — and five majors, two of them during a rookie season in 1998 that gave women’s golf its biggest boost since Nancy Lopez. She was the youngest player to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame when she was enshrined in 2007 at age 30.
Playing alongside defending champion Lexi Thompson and Chinese star Shanshan Feng in the final group, Pak bogeyed the first hole and four of the first six. She bogeyed the first five holes on the back nine, birdied the par-four 15th and closed with three straight pars.
Lee shot a 65 to take a three-stroke lead. The 21-year-old American birdied the final two holes and four of the last six on the Jack Nicklaus-designed Ocean Course.
Westwood in contention at British Masters
Lee Westwood returned to form with a four-under 67 in the first round at the British Masters in Watford, England, leaving the Englishman a shot out of the lead.
Westwood failed to win any of his three matches in Europe’s loss to the United States in the Ryder Cup and missed the cut last week in the Dunhill Links Championship.
Westwood birdied five of his first eight holes at The Grove.
Finland’s Mikko Ilonen, Scotland’s Marc Warren, England’s Tommy Fleetwood and South Africa’s Richard Sterne shared the lead at 66.
Poulter has share of lead at Macau Open
Ian Poulter shot a seven-under 64 in his return from a four-month layoff because of a foot ailment for a share of the Macau Open lead.
The Englishman didn’t play competitively for 14 weeks because of an arthritic joint in his right foot that made it difficult to walk and now requires him to wear a special insole.
Spain’s Carlos Pigem also shot 64. Thailand’s Chapchai Nirat opened with a 65.