Charley Hoffman carded an eight-under-par 64 to take a one-shot lead at the Houston Open on Thursday.
Hoffman is closely followed by Dustin Johnson, Roberto Castro, Scott Brown and Morgan Hoffmann who fired seven-under-par 65s.
World number two Jordan Spieth is three strokes off the lead in a tie for 10th after hitting a five-under-par 67, while Rickie Fowler is in a tie for 32nd and trails Hoffman by five strokes.
Hoffman, who won just one of his three matches at the WGC-Dell Match Play last week, began with a holed 16-foot birdie putt at the 10th before making a hat-trick of birdies from the 12th to 14th.
Despite recording a bogey at the 16th, which was his only blemish of the round, Hoffman rebounded on his back nine with four consecutive birdies from the first to fourth, including a chip-in from a green-side bunker at the first. He went on to conclude his round with a birdie at the eighth. The 39-year-old is now in prime position to claim the final qualifying spot for next week’s Masters.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) 1 April 2016
Johnson began with three birdies – including a holed 29-foot birdie putt at the 12th – and a bogey on his front nine. The American’s fortunes took a turn for the better on the closing nine as he notched up an eagle at the par-five eighth to go with four birdies and a bogey.
Castro’s round consisted of seven birdies, the highlight of which was a 27-foot birdie putt at the 12th, while Brown also registered seven birdies, three of which came in a row from the sixth to eighth. Hoffmann meanwhile made seven birdies, two bogeys and an incredible eagle from 76 yards at the par-five fourth.
Spieth kicked off his round in style as he made a 48-yard chip-in birdie from the right fairway before going on to make three more birdies to take the turn in 32. The 22-year-old was unable to maintain his momentum on his back nine though as he missed a 10-foot par putt to record a bogey at the 10th, but atoned for his mistake with consecutive birdies at the 14th and 15th.
He's played two holes but Jordan Spieth is already giving the fans something to cheer about. https://t.co/oJ5fgTaEKa
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) 31 March 2016
Fowler fired a three-under-par 69 and looked in good form throughout his round as he made five birdies. However, his hopes of a strong finish were dashed when he registered a double bogey at the par-four 18th after his tee shot fell into the water.
The tournament is without its defending champion, J.B. Holmes, who withdrew on Wednesday due to a shoulder injury.