WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — Jonas Blixt's memory of raising the trophy last year carried over to a strong start at the Greenbrier Classic.
The defending champion shot 6-under 64 Thursday to take a one-stroke lead over former Stanford star Patrick Rodgers and seven others at Old White TPC.
Blixt tied for second in the Masters but missed the cut in three of his past four starts. Returning to the Greenbrier resort brought him back to a comfort zone in the PGA Tour event.
Starting on the 10th hole in the morning with little wind, Blixt had six birdies on his front nine and made the turn at 5 under. Six of the Swede's eight birdies came on putts of 10 feet or less. He also chipped in from the rough for birdie on No. 16.
"The golf course is in perfect shape, like last year," Blixt said. "You come back with a bunch of confidence knowing that you won here before. If I can get my putter to work the way it did today, I felt like I hit the ball on line every time, and it could be a really good week."
european PGA: In his French Open debut, Kevin Stadler shot bogey-free 7-under 64 to lead by a stroke after the first round. The American golfer, who won the Phoenix Open in February and shared eighth place at the Masters in April, made seven birdies on the punishing course in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines that will host the Ryder Cup in 2018.
senior open: Fred Couples, 54, withdrew from the U.S. Senior Open because of a back injury, and Craig Stadler and Graham Marsh also pulled out of the event next week at Oak Tree National in Edmond, Okla. Stadler, 61, also cited a back injury, and Marsh, the 70-year-old Australian who won the 1997 U.S. Senior, pulled out because of an undisclosed injury.