Greensboro, NC – Chris Stroud and Ross Fisher carded matching rounds of 6-under 64 on Thursday as they share the first-round lead at the Wyndham Championship.
This is the final event before the FedExCup playoffs start next week and players are fighting to get into the top 125 on either the FedExCup points list or the money list to keep their tour cards for next year.
Stroud safely has his card wrapped up for next year as he stands 50th on the money list. Fisher, on the other hand, is 166th on the money list and 162nd on the FedExCup points list, so he'll need a big week to keep his card for 2014.
"My manager just said you have nothing to lose, but you go out there all guns blazing and see what happens. That's the attitude I'm taking with me. I've got to go out and kind of almost win or finish very high up," said Fisher. "I know what to do and just got to go out and enjoy it and if it's meant to be, it will happen. If it's not, then, you know, I've had a fun experience, played 15 events and it's been good fun. I don't want it to end here. I want to it keep going and try to get in the FedExCup playoffs."
Defending champion Sergio Garcia opened with a 5-under 65. He was joined in third place by Masters champion Trevor Immelman, Robert Garrigus, Matt Jones, Andrew Svoboda, Morgan Hoffmann, Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed.
Stuart Appleby carded a 4-under 66 at Sedgefield Country Club. He shares 11th place with Charles Howell III, John Senden, Bryce Molder and Chris Kirk.
Stroud started on the back nine and converted a 4-foot birdie effort on his opening hole. He drained an 11-footer for birdie at 12, then birdied the 15th from 10 feet out.
The Travelers Championship runner-up dropped his approach at the first, his 10th, within five feet and converted that for his fourth birdie. Stroud found sand with his approach at the second and that led to a bogey.
Stroud, 31, came right back with a 16-foot birdie try on the third. He birdied the fifth and sixth, both from around 15 feet, before a kick-in birdie at seven moved him to 7-under. Stroud's drive at eight found water and that led to bogey. He ended at minus-6 with a par at the ninth, his last.
"I didn't hit it that well, actually. I think I only had one or two, really good drives. I think I hit four or five iron shots. I kept myself in position," Stroud stated. "I made a lot of good putts. I probably made 150 feet of putts today. Not a bunch of 30 footers, just a lot from 8 to 15 to 20 feet and unusually don't make all those. Usually you make one, two a round if you're playing well, but it was nice. I kept myself in position. I kept myself below the hole."
Fisher also started on the back nine and like Stroud, he birdied his first hole. Fisher ran off seven consecutive pars from the 11th. At the 18th, Fisher drained a 16-footer for birdie to turn in 2-under.
The 32-year-old sank a 8-foot putt for birdie on No. 3. Two holes later, Fisher's second at the par-5 fifth stopped within seven feet and he rolled that putt in for eagle to jump within one of the lead.
Fisher, whose best finish this year on the PGA Tour is a share of 10th at the Wells Fargo Championship, poured in a 28-footer for birdie at the seventh to gain a piece of the lead. Fisher parred the last two end alongside Stroud.
"I would have to say the putter. Kind of let me down pretty much most of this year. I've played some really good golf over here, but haven't capitalized," Fisher admitted. "I think my best finish is like 10th at Quail so nice to get out there and play some solid golf and to see myself holing some putts was really, really pleasing."
NOTES: Fisher, who is in his first season on the PGA Tour, had only made the cut in six of his 14 starts this year ... Stroud has made the cut in 14 of his 22 events ... Garcia is hoping to join Sam Snead as the only back-to-back winners at this event.