Mackenzie Hughes (SS) 61 (-9)
Stewart Cink (SS) 62 (-8)
Jonathan Byrd (SS) 62 (-8)
Blayne Barber (SS) 63 (-7)
Cameron Tringale (PL) 65 (-7)
Kyle Stanley (PL) 65 (-7)
Hiroshi Iwata (PL) 65 (-7)
Note: The three leading players – Mackenzie Hughes (61), Stewart Cink (62) and Jonathan Byrd (62) – each shot their career-low rounds on the PGA TOUR.
In his first appearance at The RSM Classic, Mackenzie Hughes parred the final three holes of the Seaside Course to post 9-under 61 and take the first-round lead at The RSM Classic. The bogey-free round included nine birdies and a front-nine 30 and was one stroke shy of the tournament 18-hole record of 10-under 60 set by Tommy Gainey in 2012. It also marked Hughes’ career-low on the PGA TOUR, bettering his previous-best by seven strokes (three times – 68/R4/Safeway Open, 68/R1 & R4/Sanderson Farms Championship).
The 61 is Hughes’ career low round on any Tour. He posted an 8-under 62 in the second round of the 2015 Freedom 55 Financial Championship on the Mackenzie Tour following an opening-round 74. Hughes has recorded 64 twice in 132 rounds on the Web.com Tour.
Hughes, a Canadian who resides in Charlotte, N.C. and will celebrate his 26th birthday next Wednesday, is making his ninth start on the PGA TOUR and his fifth this season after finishing 28th in the final priority-ranking order following a season on the Web.com Tour. He won the Price Cutter Charity Championship presented by Dr. Pepper this year, one of three top-10s and 14 made cuts from 23 starts on the Web.com Tour.
Hughes’ 9-under 61 is the low opening round of The RSM Classic. The previous-low first-round score at The RSM Classic was 8-under 62 by Bud Cauley and Marco Dawson in 2012, and George McNeill in 2013.
Hughes has an excellent record in getting off to a good start at tournaments. In 2015, on the Mackenzie Tour-PGA TOUR Canada, Hughes played 12 events and posted sub-par scores in the first round of 11 consecutive tournaments. A 4-over 74 in the opening-round of the final event of the season was his only blemish. Hughes has opened all five of his tournaments on the PGA TOUR this season with par-or-better rounds.
Hughes made his debut as a PGA TOUR member by finishing T13 at the Safeway Open in September. He played with Phil Mickelson both rounds on the weekend. Hughes married his wife, Jenna, the weekend after his first start as a PGA TOUR member. The T13 finish at the Safeway Open is his best in four starts this season. He missed the cut at last week’s OHL Classic at Mayakoba.
Mackenzie Hughes R1 Statistics
Driving Distance 279.7 (26)
Driving Accuracy 14 of 14 (T1)
Scrambling 3 of 3
First-Round Leader Notes
Through six events in the 2016-17 PGA TOUR Season, the first-round leader/co-leader has gone on to win twice (Justin Thomas/CIMB Classic, Rod Pampling/Shriners Hospitals for Children Open).
The first-round leader/co-leader has gone on to win The RSM Classic just one time. Last year, Kevin Kisner opened with a 7-under 65 to hold a one-stroke lead over eight players tied for second at 6-under before going on to victory.
Hughes adds his name to the three players who share the largest 18-hole lead (1 stroke) – John Rollins/2010, George McNeill/2013, Kevin Kisner/2015, Mackenzie Hughes/2016).
Sea Island resident Jonathan Byrd, playing on a sponsor’s invitation, posted a bogey-free 8-under 62 in front of his daughter, Caroline, who was celebrating her eighth birthday on Thursday. His son, Jackson, who was an honorary observer with another group in the first round, reminded Byrd that the 62 was his lowest 18-hole score on TOUR. Byrd owns six rounds of 63 on the PGA TOUR with the most recent coming at The Greenbrier Classic in 2015.
Byrd, a five-time PGA TOUR winner, is competing in his 360th event this week. He’s probably best remembered for the ace he made on the fourth hole of a sudden-death playoff to beat Martin Laird and Cameron Percy for the title at the 2010 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. Byrd’s last top-10 result was a T3 at the 2014 Barracuda Championship.
Byrd has made four cuts in five starts at his ‘home’ event with a best result of T32 in 2011. His previous low round in this event was 66 (twice – R3/2011, R1/2013).
Stewart Cink fired his career-low 18-hole score on the PGA TOUR with an 8-under 62 over the Seaside Course in the first round of The RSM Classic. Cink’s round, which began at No. 10, was highlighted by nine birdies, including four in a row on holes 4-7, and a lone bogey at his final hole.
Cink is making his sixth consecutive start at The RSM Classic where his best result is a T32 in 2014. That year, Cink posted a 7-under 63 in the third round, his previous-best 18-hole score in this event, and his previous-best career-low round, one of five 63s in his career.
This is Cink’s 518th event on the PGA TOUR where he’s been a member since 1997. He owns six victories, including The Open Championship in 2009, his most recent win.
Cink played just 19 events last season. With the news of his wife Lisa’s diagnosis with breast cancer, he withdrew from the Wells Fargo Championship and did not compete on TOUR for six weeks in April and May. When he returned to compete at the FedEx St. Jude Classic in June, his second start back after the break, cancer patients from the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital drew pictures on get-well cards for Lisa, who was at TPC Southwind with Stewart.
Cink made the following comments on Lisa’s current health after his round.
“It’s constantly hanging over us. You don’t know what the future brings with something like this. I am just really encouraged by the way she’s been able to fight and handle it. She’s had definitely a lot of ups and downs and she feels pretty well, and she got a good report Monday, real good. She’s really like an inspiration for me.”
This is Cink’s fourth start this season. He missed the cut at the Safeway Open and posted T15 finishes at both the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open and the OHL Classic at Mayakoba.
Additional Player Notes
Tournament host Davis Love III opened with an even-par 72 on the Plantation Course in his 735th start on the PGA TOUR. Here’s a look at Love’s finishes at The RSM Classic (T33/2010, MC/2011, T4/2012, MC/2013, T41/2014, T33/2015).
Defending champion of The RSM Classic Kevin Kisner opened with 2-under 68 at the Seaside Course. Kisner “coached” the PGA TOUR players to a 10-6 victory over their wives Tuesday night in the annual PGA TOUR Wives Association Wiffle Ball Classic.
Wesley Bryan, named 2016 Web.com Tour Player of the Year in a ceremony at Sea Island Golf Club Wednesday, opened Thursday with a 3-under 67 at the Seaside Course. His round included two eagles, at the par-5 seventh and 15th holes.
Jim Furyk was the only player in the field Thursday to hit all 18 greens in regulation on his way to a 6-under 64. Furyk also led the field in proximity (19’ 1”).
At T4 on the leaderboard, Hiroshi Iwata is at his highest position on the leaderboard ever on the PGA TOUR after 18 holes. His first-round 7-under 65 tied the lowest round of the day on the Plantation Course.
The trio of Robert Garrigus (67), Chad Campbell (66) and Steve Wheatcroft (70), who teed off at 9:50 a.m., negotiated the Plantation Course without recording a bogey in the opening round.
All six of the past champions of the RSM Classic are in the field this week.
Champion Year won R1 Score
Kevin Kisner 2015 68
Robert Streb 2014 71
Chris Kirk 2013 69
Tommy Gainey 2012 73
Ben Crane 2011 66
Heath Slocum 2010 75
Round one scores for “Team RSM” Members:
Davis Love III 72
Zach Johnson 70
The Plantation Course gave up just seven over-par rounds in the first round of The RSM Classic.
Sea Island Connections in the field
Tournament host, Sea Island resident and “Team RSM” member Davis Love III headlines the list of players with Sea Island connections, with the majority training out of the state-of-the-art Sea Island Golf Performance Center:
- Blayne Barber – trains at Sea Island Golf Performance Center
- Jonathan Byrd – Sea Island resident, trains at Sea Island Golf Performance Center
- Stewart Cink – trains at Sea Island Golf Performance Center
- Harris English – Sea Island resident, trains at Sea Island Golf Performance Center
- Brian Harman – Sea Island resident, trains at Sea Island Golf Performance Center
- Billy Horschel – trains at Sea Island Golf Performance Center
- Charles Howell III – owns Sea Island property
- Zach Johnson – “Team RSM”, Sea Island resident, trains at Sea Island Golf Performance Center
- Patton Kizzire – Sea Island resident; trains at Sea Island Golf Performance Center
- Matt Kuchar – Sea Island resident, trains at Sea Island Golf Performance Center
- Rick Lamb – Sea Island Resident; trains at Sea Island Golf Performance Center
- Scott Langley – Sea Island resident; trains at Sea Island Golf Performance Center
- Davis Love III – Sea Island resident; trains at Sea Island Golf Performance Center
- Trey Mullinax – trains at Sea Island Golf Performance Center
- J.T. Poston – Sea Island resident; trains at Sea Island Golf Performance Center
- Seamus Power –trains at Sea Island Golf Performance Center
- Kyle Reifers – trains at Sea Island Golf Performance Center
- Sam Saunders – trains at Sea Island Golf Performance Center
- Hudson Swafford – Sea Island resident; trains at Sea Island Golf Performance Center
- Michael Thompson – Sea Island resident; trains at Sea Island Golf Performance Center
- Bobby Wyatt – Sea Island resident; trains at Sea Island Golf Performance Center
R1: Twenty-five players recorded bogey-free rounds in the opening round.
First-round Scoring Averages
Front 9 Back 9 Total Cumulative
Seaside 34.013 34.282 68.295 —
Plantation 34.423 34.641 69.064 —