White Sulphur Springs, WV (SportsNetwork.com) - Defending champion Jonas Blixt fired a 6-under 64 on Thursday and grabbed a 1-stroke lead after the opening round of The Greenbrier Classic.
Blixt, who hasn't won since this event last year, shared second at the Masters this year, but his next best finish was a tie for 16th, which he did at the WGC-Cadillac Championship.
Patrick Rodgers, who left Stanford last month after his junior season, carded a 5-under 65 on the Old White TPC Course at The Greenbrier. He was joined in second place by Jason Bohn, Jim Renner, Joe Durant, James Hahn, Chris Kirk, Danny Lee and D.A. Points.
Pat Perez, who shared sixth place last year here, and Steve Stricker both shot 4-under 66s and they share 10th with Troy Merritt, Kevin Na, Chad Collins, Chris Stroud, Michael Thompson and Sang-Moon Bae.
Blixt started his round with a pair of 7-foot birdie putts at the 10th and 12th. A poor drive on the 13th led to a bogey, but he came right back with a 5-foot birdie effort on the 14th.
The Masters runner-up holed a shot from off the green at the 16th for birdie before he dropped his third to the par-5 17th within three feet. After kicking that in for birdie, Blixt made it three in a row as he drained a 21-footer for birdie on No. 18.
Blixt made the turn at 5-under and quickly moved to minus-6 as he birdied the first from 10 feet out for his fourth straight birdie.
After three pars in a row, the 30-year-old came up short of the green at the fifth and failed to get up and down for par. Blixt bounced back with a short birdie putt on the sixth. He closed with three pars in a row to post 64.
"I got off to a pretty good start. I got some good breaks in the morning," Blixt said. "There was no wind and fantastic conditions to go low. Happy to make those putts coming back (on seven and eight) to keep the round going."
Rodgers matched Blixt's start with birdies on 10 and 12, but Rodgers tripped to a bogey on the 14th to dip to minus-1. He parred the next four before holing out for eagle on the par-4 first.
After five pars in a row, Rodgers birdied the seventh and ninth to gain a share of the lead.
Bohn also started on the back nine and had three birdies and a bogey on his opening nine. Around the turn, he birdied three of the first five holes to move to minus-5. Bohn stumbled to a bogey on the sixth, but atoned for that mistake with a birdie on No. 9, his last.
Renner birdied the 10th and 12th before faltering to a bogey on the 14th. Around the turn, he flew up the leaderboard with four birdies against no bogeys.
Durant had three birdies and a bogey on the back nine, which was his opening nine. On the front side, he had three more birdies to gain a share of second.
Points also had three birdies on both sides, but closed with a bogey on the ninth, his last.
Hahn, Kirk and Lee all played the front nine first on Thursday. Hahn posted birdies on the first and ninth. He made it two in a row as he birdied the 10th as well.
At the par-5 12th, Hahn stumbled to a bogey, but he bounced back with birdies on 13 and 14 to get within one of the lead. Hahn 2-putted for birdie on the par-5 17th to gain a piece of second place.
"I made a lot of long putts. It was good to see them go in. I'm hitting my lines too," Hahn said. "The course was playing long after a lot of rain yesterday, but it's definitely scoreable."
Kirk was bogey-free with five birdies, while Lee mixed eight birdies and three bogeys in his round of 65.
NOTES: U.S. Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson played alongside Webb Simpson and Keegan Bradley. Watson and Simpson shot 71s, while Bradley is tied for 18th after shooting 3-under 67 ... Blixt last opened with a round in the 60s at the Phoenix Open in February ... The top four players that finish in the top 12 on the leaderboard will get into the Open Championship if not already qualified. If there is a tie, the player with the higher world ranking will gain the spot at Hoylake ... Brian Gay withdrew after the round with a thumb injury.