Blixt makes sizzling start to title defense

Thu Jul 3, 2014 8:13pm EDT
 
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(Reuters) - Swede Jonas Blixt made a storming start to his title defense at The Greenbrier Classic in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia on Thursday as he charged into a one-shot lead in the opening round.

Firing at the flags whenever possible on a calm morning in the Allegheny Mountains, the 30-year-old racked up eight birdies and two bogeys on the way to a six-under-par 64 on the Greenbrier's Old White Course.

That left him one ahead of New Zealand's Danny Lee and Americans James Hahn, Jason Bohn, Chris Kirk, D.A. Points, Patrick Rodgers, Jim Renner and Joe Durant, who tied for sixth at last week's Senior Players Championship, the year's third major on the over-50s Champions Tour.

American world number 18 Steve Stricker, who has been playing a limited schedule on the PGA Tour in recent years, carded a bogey-free 66 in his first tournament since last month's U.S. Open.

Blixt, who won last year's Greenbrier Classic by two shots after closing with a 67, was delighted with his overall strategy coming into his second ever title defense on the PGA Tour.

"I think I relaxed a little too much the first time," the Swede told Golf Channel, referring to his maiden victory on the U.S. circuit at the 2012 Frys.com Open and his tie for 51st at the event the following year.

"I was too comfortable. You've just got to realize it's a new golf tournament, they are four rounds to play and there's a bunch of players that can beat you.

"So I just went out there and tried to fire at everything," said Blixt, who totaled only 22 putts. "I made as many birdies as possible to get a head start. I got some good breaks and made some putts."

  Continued...

 
Sweden's Jonas Blixt hits his tee shot on the fourth hole during the final round of the Masters golf tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia April 13, 2014. REUTERS/Mike Blake