Eagle ignites Schwartzel in AT&T Byron Nelson

After a quiet and unexceptional start to the AT&T Byron Nelson Championship on the PGA Tour, a hole-out eagle on the 14th spurred Charl Schwartzel on to a seven-under-par 65 on Thursday in the first round.

He was in a share of seventh place as the lead was shared by Jordan Spieth and JJ Spaun. They had a one-stroke edge over fellow-Americans Aaron Wise, Doc Redman and Joseph Bramlett who were on eight-under with Spaniard Rafa Cabrera Bello.

Schwartzel made birdies on the two par-fives on the opening nine on a day on which scoring was clearly very low, and four consecutive pars after the turn gave no indication of how he was about to get after some red numbers.

He pushed his tee shot to the right rough on the short par-four 14th in an attempt to drive the green, and had just 76 yards to the hole over a series of bunkers guarding the right-hand side of the green and the pin. When his approach went in, it ignited a birdie hunt as he went down the stretch picking up shots on the 15th, 17th and 18th.

Spieth was also bogey-free as he returned to action after contracting COVID-19 about 10 days after the Masters, as was Spaun.

Rory Sabbatini went five-under for a share of 34th, together with MJ Daffue, while Erik van Rooyen was well off the pace on level-par 72.

On the Korn Ferry Tour, Dawie van der Walt carded a one-under-par 69 to open the Visit Knoxville Open in Texas in a share of 57th. The tournament was led by Greyson Sigg on nine-under. Tyrone van Aswegen was on level-par , with qualifier Albert Pistorius on two-over.

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