Friday, March 16, 2018

Rats! Late score sidetracks Koepka at PGA's Byron Nelson

IRVING, Texas — Brooks Koepka leaned in for a closer look at his ball buried in deep rough when a critter he couldn't identify caused him to jump back with a bit of a startled look.

His best guesses were a frog or rat, though he was too disoriented to be sure. It definitely wasn't a birdie, because the former FSU standout was on his way to finishing with two straight bogeys after sharing the lead late in his opening round of the Byron Nelson on Thursday.

A year after losing to Sergio Garcia in a playoff here, Koepka settled for 3-under 67 and trailed co-leaders James Hahn and Ricky Barnes by three.

"It jumped out, and I didn't know what was going on; freaked me out," said Koepka, who needed help from tournament volunteers and fans to find his ball while hitting two shots out of the thick grass and just missing a chip that would have saved par on the ninth hole, his last.

"I was so in amazement of what just happened. … I couldn't see it because it ran underneath the grass again."

Matt Kuchar, Jhonattan Vegas, Jason Kokrak and Cameron Tringale shot 66, and Dustin Johnson topped the group at 67, a stroke ahead of Jason Day and Jordan Spieth.

LPGA: Lexi Thompson had six birdies in a seven-hole stretch and finished with 6-under 65 for the first-round lead at the Kingsmill Championship in Williamsburg, Va. Playing her third tourney since losing the ANA Inspiration in a playoff after being penalized four strokes for a rules violation that a TV viewer spotted, Thompson had a one-stroke lead over U.S. Solheim Cup teammates Gerina Piller and Seminole's Brittany Lincicome and young American Angel Yin. Top-ranked Lydia Ko was two back at 67 along with Sarah Jane Smith and Giulia Molinaro.

CHAMPIONS: Scott McCarron eagled the par-5 18th for 7-under 65 and a share of the first-round lead at the Regions Tradition in Birmingham, Ala., the first of the tour's five majors. Lee Janzen, Jeff Sluman and Miguel Angel Jimenez joined McCarron atop the leaderboard. Kenny Perry was a stroke back along with David Frost, Fred Funk, Scott Parel, Marco Dawson and Tommy Armour.