(Reuters) - Veteran South African Retief Goosen drew on good memories of past Presidents Cups played at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club as he charged into a tie for the early lead at the Quicken Loans National in Virginia on Thursday.
The 46-year-old, who represented the Internationals in the 2000 and 2005 Cup editions at the leafy venue in Gainesville, piled up eight birdies in hot, humid conditions for a flawless eight-under-par 63 in the opening round.
Goosen covered his back nine in a sparkling four-under 31 to finish level with 23-year-old Japanese Ryo Ishikawa, who reeled off five consecutive birdies on his front nine before recording a hole-in-one at the par-three fourth after the turn.
Justin Leonard and Kevin Chappell fired 64s while fellow American Steve Wheatcroft carded a 65 in the PGA Tour event hosted by Tiger Woods, where play was suspended for 97 minutes earlier in the day due to the threat of lightning.
“I hit a lot of iron shots close that gave me birdie chances,” Goosen, a seven-times winner on the PGA Tour, told Golf Channel after taking advantage of preferred lies on a soft, receptive layout.
“I missed a couple of short ones, actually, out there but just one green missed in regulation and I got that up and down. So overall, a great round.”
Goosen has fond memories of the Presidents Cups hosted by Robert Trent Jones Golf Club, especially the 2005 edition when he finished with a 4-0-1 record that included a victory over Woods in the last-day singles.
“It was a great week for me but it would have been nice if the team had won,” smiled Goosen, who has not won on the PGA Tour since the 2009 Transitions Championship.
“It came down to two matches on the last hole and we ended up being the ones on the losing side.
“But it was a great week and I have a lot of good memories here. I remember a lot of the holes. The course has been lengthened since then quite a bit, for sure.”
Woods and defending champion Justin Rose of England, the world number seven, were among the day’s late starters.
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue