Ross Fisher figures he doesn't have anything to lose at the Wyndham Championship.
The PGA Tour rookie who arrived way outside the playoff picture shot a 6-under 64 on Thursday and shared the first-round lead with Chris Stroud.
"I know what I've got to do, and I've just got to go enjoy it, and if it's meant to be, it'll happen," Fisher said. "I don't want it to end here."
Eight players — defending champion Sergio Garcia, Matt Jones, Robert Garrigus, Jordan Spieth, Trevor Immelman, Morgan Hoffman, Patrick Reed and Andrew Svoboda — shot 65.
John Senden and Stuart Appleby were among the five players at 66 at the final tournament before golf's postseason begins next week.
It was the highest score for an opening-round leader since the tournament returned to Sedgefield Country Club in 2008.
Fisher, a four-time winner on the European Tour, came to central North Carolina at No. 162 on the points list and needed a huge weekend just to make it to the postseason.
He was in the last threesome of the day, started his round on the back nine and made his climb late.
He eagled the par-5 fifth when he landed his approach shot about 7 feet from the flagstick and sank the ensuing putt, then joined Stroud at 6 under two holes later with a 30-foot birdie putt. He could have overtaken him, but missed a 12-foot birdie putt on No. 8 before pushing a 40-foot birdie putt a few inches wide on No. 9.
"My manager said, 'You've got nothing to lose. Just go out there all guns blazing and see what happens,'" Fisher said.
Stroud had eight birdies during his best round of the year, which came at the Donald Ross-designed course that had vexed him through the previous five years.
"I've even told people I love this golf course," Stroud said. "I have no idea why I don't play well here."
Stroud could've easily skipped this week and rested up for the playoffs. He arrived at No. 48 on the points list and — unlike so many other players here this week — is assured of a spot in the playoff field.
He has played this tournament every year since the crosstown move but made it to the weekend only once — finishing in a tie for 73rd last year.
After missing the cut at PGA Championship by one stroke, he said he "told my caddie, 'I got to play next week.'
"I'm playing too well to go home and just sit and get rusty," Stroud said. "I said I want to get sharp for The Barclays. Let's go to Greensboro, low expectations since I haven't played that great here."
Those expectations might have been raised after a strong first round in which he made a quick charge up the leaderboard with three straight birdies.
The 31-year-old Texan, who started on the back nine, stuck his tee shot roughly 2 feet from the flagstick on the par-3 seventh and sank that putt to briefly move to 7 under.
He bogeyed the next hole after sending his tee shot into a water hazard, then pushed a 5-foot birdie putt wide on the par-4 ninth and settled for a par. That capped a round that was two strokes better than his six 66s this year, most recently last month at the Sanderson Farms Championship.
Garcia, who claimed a two-stroke victory here last year, hit 17 greens during his bogey-free round. He is trying to become the first player since Sam Snead in the 1950s to win this tournament in consecutive years.
"It was a great round today, but it's only Thursday," Garcia said.
Some bubble players are trying to play their way into the top 125 on the points list, which would earn them spots at The Barclays next week in New Jersey.
Peter Hanson, who at No. 126 was the consummate player on the bubble, gave himself a good push with a 68. Appleby, at No. 123, is in good shape with his strong round.
But No. 129 Padraig Harrington shot a 73 that put his playoff fate in jeopardy. Immelman, at No. 148, needs a win to make it.
Jones, who's safe this year at No. 51 on the points list, can relate: He finished 126th in 2009 and 127th two years ago after rough weeks at this tournament.
"I've definitely been there before," Jones said. "I know what they're going through. It's not a comfortable feeling."
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