(Reuters) - Bryce Molder wielded a red-hot putter on near-perfect greens, finishing with a four-birdie flurry to take a one-shot lead in Thursday’s opening round of the Colonial tournament in Fort Worth, Texas.
The 37-year-old American sank an 11-footer at the sixth, a 20-footer at the seventh, an 11-footer at the eighth and an 18-footer at the par-four ninth, his final hole, to shoot a flawless six-under 64 at Colonial Country Club.
India’s Anirban Lahiri, and Americans Patrick Reed and Webb Simpson, opened with 65s while the ominous figure of world number two and local favorite Jordan Spieth lurked just three strokes off the pace after carding 67.
Spieth, who has played just two PGA Tour events since his final-round meltdown at last month’s Masters, made a nice birdie-birdie start to excite the huge galleries watching his every move.
Though he bogeyed the par-three fourth after finding a bunker off the tee, he picked up two more shots over his closing holes to end the opening round in touch with the lead.
Molder, whose only PGA Tour victory came at the 2011 Frys.com Open, parred his first nine holes in gloomy early morning conditions before catching fire on his back nine with a sparkling six-under 29.
“I hit a lot of greens early, to 20, 30 feet, and kind of rolled it up close and all of a sudden I hit a couple of bullets when I made the turn,” Molder told PGA Tour Radio.
“On number one and two, I got some close birdies, and I have always loved these greens. I got some good looks late.”
Molder was especially pleased with his birdie at the par-four seventh where his tee shot ended up in the right fairway bunker from where he struck a 146-yard approach to 20 feet.
”I was just trying to get it on the surface, somewhere pin-high right on seven,“ he smiled. ”These bunkers are so good … they are perfect.
“I was fortunate to get a good look, a 20-footer. Again, you get it on line on these greens and they’re going to go in.”
Lahiri, meanwhile, said he enjoyed playing on a layout that triggered memories of a course half a world away in his homeland.
“It reminds me of my favorite track back in India, the Delhi Golf Club. It’s all about navigation. You don’t have to go bombs away on every tee, and I really like that,” he said after a round that included seven birdies and two bogeys.
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Andrew Both