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Pettersson Leads after Round 1 of Wyndham Championship
Carl Pettersson carried over his fine play in last week's PGA Championship in the opening round of the Wyndham Championship, a $5.2 million PGA Tour stop that began Thursday at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, N.C.
The 34-year-old Swede, who calls Raleigh, N.C., his home, started on the 10th tee and reeled off four birdies on his front nine and four more on the back for an 8-under 62, good enough for a one-stroke edge over American David Mathis and fellow North Carolina State grad, Tim Clark of South Africa.
"I started off the round good with two birdies in the first three holes and got me kind of straight back into the score mode from last week and I wasn't sure, sometimes after a great week you sometimes feel a little bit flat the next week but I think it helped getting off to such a good start and I played solid," said Pettersson, who finished tied for fourth in last week's PGA Championship at Kiawah Island, S.C.
"I played - hit it pretty good off the tee and hit my irons good and putted really well. It was a great day for me," he added. (See Pettersson's full post-round interview below.)
Mathis, who was born in Winston-Salem and attended college at Wake Forest, shot a seven-birdie 63. He, too, was pleased with how his opening round went. "It's really nice to get off to a good start especially the position I'm in with the FedEx Cup and being on the outside looking in," said Mathis, who's ranked 136th in the season-long points race and needs to rise into the top-125 to qualify for next week's Barclays, the first of four tournaments in the FedEx Cup.
"It's nice to get off to a solid start, give myself an opportunity to go forward to have a good finish and get in those playoffs which, gosh, it's a pretty big deal," added Mathis, who's had six top-25 finishes in 24 starts this year en route to earning $575,980. "It was a great day out there. I played well. I putted the ball just beautifully all day which was really nice you know. The greens are so good for being so young. It was a fun day."
The 38-year-old would prefer to have a guaranteed spot at Bethpage Black in New York next week. "Playing from behind or just making the cut and having to press to try to get a good finish to get in the playoffs is not the spot you want to be in," he noted. "It's nice to play a good round of golf and hit the ball in the fairway, knock it on the green and make some putts. And I chipped the ball well - I just did everything really solidly pretty much all day and, you know, added up to a good score. Thankful for that."
Clark, whose one and only PGA Tour victory came in the 2010 Players Championship, is ranked 109th in the FedEx Cup. On Thursday, the diminutive player - also starting on the 10th tee - posted four birdies on his front nine. He added an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole (his 14th) and a birdie on his final hole, the par-4 ninth.
Clark and Pettersson were roommates in college and remain good friends. "Obviously very pleased with that," Clark said of his score. "Didn't really know what to expect coming up but having seen Carl shoot what he did in the morning I knew it was out there if I played a great round so it was nice to sort of keep pace."
Clark, who finished tied for 11th in the PGA, is also looking for momentum as he heads into the potentially lucrative FedEx Cup, which offers $10 million to the overall series winner. "I needed to play well there and had to get myself in a good position going forward," he said of his performance at the PGA. "So I felt like I was under the gun the last few weeks. I seem to play better like that.
"This is a huge week. You have a good opportunity to move way up in the standings and get yourself started. You have to play well. I really want to move up now and then carry that momentum to the Playoffs."
Clark will keep his eyes on Pettersson, the 2008 Wyndham champion. "I got to keep pace with Carl," he said. "He likes this course, he's won here and when he goes low, he really goes low. If I'm able to hang in there, it's going to be a lot of fun."
Shooting 6-under 64s were Americans Tom Gillis, Scott Stallings and Troy Matteson. Matt Every is in solo seventh after a 65, while right behind after 66s are defending champion Webb Simpson, Chris Kirk, Gary Woodland, Bud Cauley, Tommy Gainey, Arjun Atwal, Nick Watney, Jimmy Walker, John Merrick, Harris English and Richard H. Lee.
Starting on the 10th, Simpson had three birdies and a bogey on his outward nine and two more birdies coming home. "Great start today. You know, only one bogey on my second hole. Other than that played really solid, and fun to watch somebody shoot 62," said the reigning U.S. Open champion.
"I'm really happy with the way I played. I bogeyed the 11th hole which was the second hole of the day. After that I didn't drop any shots. Tee to green played solid," added Simpson, a native of Raleigh and also a Wake Forest grad. "It's one of those rounds you get done, you're pleased with the overall way the day went."
Nearly 20 players shot 3-under 67s, including another Tarheel, Davis Love III, the captain of the 2012 U.S. Ryder Cup team.
For all the scores, visit http://www.pgatour.com/r/leaderboard.
After signing his scorecard, Pettersson met with reporters for the following interview session.
MODERATOR: Carl Pettersson, 8-under, 62 in round one of the Wyndham Championship. You won't go away. You're picking right back you have where you left off last week at the PGA Championship and obviously played well, won here and T-4 last year. Just continuation of what's been going right for you, I guess.
CARL PETTERSSON: Yeah, exactly. I started off the round good with two birdies in the first three holes and got me kind of straight back into the score mode from last week and I wasn't sure, sometimes after a great week you sometimes feel a little bit flat the next week but I think it helped getting off to such a good start and I played solid. I played - hit it pretty good off the tee and hit my irons good and putted really well. It was a great day for me.
Q. There was a lot of talk about how the new green surfaces were going to change the scoring. It looks fairly similar from your perspective. How different was it?
CARL PETTERSSON: Yeah, it's definitely playing harder. If you put the ball in the fairway you can still score. It's probably easier to make putts now because the greens are pure. But if you're missing the fairways you're going to have a tougher time making par and I got fortunate today, I missed a few fairways but I had a decent lie in the rough and was able to get it on the green but it's definitely - the average score will be a little bit higher than last year. If you're playing well you can definitely score around here, sure.
Q. Any member bounces out there? Typical day for you? Must have felt comfortable the whole way.
CARL PETTERSSON: That's right, I am a member (laughter). No, no real great - I had a couple of good lies in the rough where it's sitting up, it's fine. If it's sitting down you have a hard time reaching the green. I had a couple sitting up. That helps.
Q. Are you a streak player? In your best golf you think in moments like this when you get going and can just keep it rolling?
CARL PETTERSSON: Yeah, I think so. I think this game is very streaky. We get on a good run you got to keep going and seems like when you're playing well you never think you're going to play bad. When you're playing bad you never think you're going to play well. For sure, I think it is a very streaky game. Once you get on a streak you got to take advantage of it and, you know, put the pedal down and go for it.
Q. What is it about this golf course that seems to suit you so well?
CARL PETTERSSON: It's close to home. I lived here obviously in high school and I just like it. It fits my eye very good off the tee. Every tee shot I stand on, every tee box and feel comfortable. I seem to read the greens really well and I think that's the key, hitting the fairways and making some putts.
Q. Are you still making the commute to Raleigh during this tournament?
CARL PETTERSSON: Yeah. I stayed up here last night. I'll commute from now on.
Q. Carl, the changes in the course, is this 62 better than the 61 you shot in '08?
CARL PETTERSSON: Probably very similar. It's tougher to go - I think it's tougher to go 9 than 8. Doesn't really matter if the course is easier or not. It's still a very good round. Very similar, yeah.
Q. Did the ruling thing stay with you long after you left Kiawah?
CARL PETTERSSON: A little bit that night but nothing I could do about it. It sure would have been nice if I finished 2nd but Rory played phenomenal. I played to win but Rory played great. It's tough to beat a guy that has a 3 shot lead and shoots what, 66? I'm over it. It's fine. It's gone. It's over and done with. Nothing I can do about it.
MODERATOR: All right. Carl, we hope you keep it up and join us a lot here this week.
CARL PETTERSSON: I am a little gun-shy now. I was in the hazard on 15. My ball was sitting up. I put the club about up here (indicating), the ball was down here (laughter).
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.
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