Scottie Scheffler did something last weekend that he rarely does, watching a golf tournament at home after missing a cut. The world’s No. 1 player is back on the course, and tied atop a crowded leaderboard at Colonial.
Scheffler was among eight players who shot 4-under 66 on Thursday in the Charles Schwab Classic. But he was the only in that group without a bogey, rebounding from his missed cut at the PGA Championship.
Cam Davis, Beau Hossler, Chris Kirk, Patrick Reed, Webb Simpson, Nick Taylor and Harold Varner III also shot 66s. Seven others were a shot back.
“The course is playing harder than it does in a typical year here. Yeah, I felt like I did a really good job of managing myself around the golf course,” Scheffler said. “Anytime you make no bogeys, it’s going to be a good round.”
Those who teed off in the morning wave – including Scheffler, Reed, Simpson and Varner – started with virtually no wind and cooler conditions. The wind picking up later in their rounds and gusted to 20 mph throughout the afternoon.
Defending Colonial champion Jason Kokrak and Jordan Spieth, the 2016 winner who last year became a third-time runner-up, shot 69.
Many players wore ribbons pinned to their caps to show support for the community of Uvalde, Texas – about 350 miles south of the course – after 19 students and two teachers were killed in a shooting at an elementary school Tuesday.
Reed birdied all four par 3s at Colonial, including a 64-foot blast from the greenside bunker into the cup at the 237-yard fourth hole. His only bogey came on his last hole, after missing the fairway on the 400-yard dogleg right ninth hole.
In his previous 11 starts the past four months, Reed missed four cuts and finished no better than 26th. He has slipped to 38th in the World Golf Ranking – he was ninth when at Colonial last year.
“It feels good to get a number out of it,” Reed said about his 66. “Honestly, I feel like there’s been too many days that I’ve done a lot of things really well, just the number hasn’t really reflected it. But the great thing about a season is it’s a season. You have a lot of time left.”
Varner had four bogeys, countering those with six birdies and an eagle at the 634-yard 11th hole, when he had a 330-yard drive and a 305-yard approach to the green for a 5-foot putt. That came after a chip-in birdie from 55 feet at No. 10, and a 10-foot birdie putt at No. 12, but he bogeyed two of the next three holes.
Bolstered by his eagle make from 95 yards out on the par-4 12th, Taylor, a native of Abbotsford, B.C., was at 5 under and was still a stroke ahead in the lead until his bogey at No. 18. The world’s 244th-ranked player hit his last drive of the day way right, and his second shot ended up on a cart path.
Adam Svensson of Surrey, B.C., shot a 69 and is in a tie for 26th place.
Simpson followed his only bogeys, on both front-side par 3s, immediately with birdies. That included a closing 6 1/2-foot birdie putt at No. 9 after his tee shot at No. 8 put him in a deep greenside bunker with only his head and shoulders visible when blasting out of it.
“Other than those two holes, it was really solid,” Simpson said. “Had a few good up-and-downs, but this is the type of Colonial that I love where the rough is up and the wind is blowing.”
Hossler took his share of the lead with an eagle 2 from 135 yards out finishing at the ninth hole. He also had another eagle at from 65 yards at the par-4 sixth. Both of his eagles came after bogeys on his previous hole.
Scheffler played Thursday with PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas, the world’s No. 5 player who had a 71.
Thomas won the PGA in a three-hole aggregate playoff over Will Zalatoris, who had an opening 72 at Colonial. Zalatoris lives in the Dallas area like Scheffler and Spieth.
Mito Pereira shot even-par 70 at Colonial, four days after he lost the PGA lead and missed the playoff with Thomas and Zalatoris because of a double bogey on the 72nd hole at Southern Hills.
Scheffler didn’t officially commit to playing Colonial until after his premature departure from the PGA. He watched the rest of the PGA Championship on TV after the roughly 300-mile trip home from Tulsa, Oklahoma.
“I typically don’t ever watch golf, but it was nice. I relaxed all day Saturday, and Sunday went out and practised, just put the tournament up on my phone and kind of watched,” Scheffler said. “Will was really close and J.T. is a good buddy of mine, as well, and my old caddy was caddying for Mito. ... I had a lot of different guys I wanted to watch, and it was fun.”