(Reuters) - Australian Adam Scott birdied two of his final three holes and grabbed a share of the lead with American Andrew Landry in the first round of the Safeway Open in Napa, California, on Thursday.
Former Masters winner Scott, who started on the back nine at the Silverado Resort, mixed an eagle with six birdies and a bogey for a seven-under-par 65.
Scott, 39, said he benefited from taking time off after the Tour Championship in Atlanta last month.
“I think it’s easy to walk away from hitting balls for a couple weeks, but it’s not easy to switch your mind out of thinking about your swing or thinking about your chipping or your putter or what driver setting you want this year,” Scott told the Golf Channel.
“But I did,” he added. “I kind of had it all lined up to where I could walk away and walk back into it last week and feel at least confident enough that I’m not going to be horrible when I tee off today.”
Scott was at five-under on the day when he stepped up to the par-five fifth hole, where he curled in a 54-foot eagle putt before capping off his round with four consecutive pars.
Former British Open champion Francesco Molinari finished one shot back at six-under-par, along with American Matthew NeSmith.
Molinari, who also started on the back nine, erased an early birdie with a bogey at the par-four 14th hole when he missed an 11-footer.
But the Italian was solid the rest of the way and made six more birdies, including three over his final five holes, and is one back of the lead.
Former NFL quarterback Tony Romo, who has yet to make a PGA Tour cut in three attempts, put himself in position to play during the weekend after opening with a two-under-par 70.
World No. 6 Justin Thomas was three over through 11 holes but rebounded and made an eagle on his final hole to card a one-under 71.
Colombian Sebastian Munoz, fresh off his maiden PGA Tour triumph last week in Mississippi, and defending champion Kevin Tway, also opened with matching one-under 71s.
Phil Mickelson recorded a nine on the par-five fifth hole and finished with a three-over-par 75.
Reporting by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles. Editing by Gerry Doyle