The American admitted he had been “getting a lot of press” after he proposed to his girlfriend on the 18th green at Pebble Beach last month, while he was disqualified from last week’s Honda Classic because he had failed to register as first alternate for the tournament.
But he bounced back with an impressive six-birdie opener in blustery conditions at the??Trump International course in Rio Grande, earning a one-shot lead over veteran Billy Mayfair, Chris Smith and??Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo.
Hubbard turned in 35 after starting at the 10th and he birdied four of his last six holes, although he dropped his second shot of the day at the eighth.
“I drove it pretty well, kept it in the fairway and made a lot of solid five and six-footers,” Hubbard said. “It played tough out there with the wind.”
Former world No 1 David Duval is two shots off the pace after a commendable 70, in which he birdied two of the last four holes to join 10 other players – including Rod Pampling and Spaniard Rafael Cabrera Bello – on two under par.
Duval, who has not won since claiming his lone major title at the 2001 Open Championship, was particularly pleased with his approach putting during a tough opening round in which only 25 players of the 130-man field broke par.
“I hit it good and I putted really well,” Duval said. “I made a couple to keep me going, two-putted several times from 25 to 40 feet and didn’t have to sweat over the second one.”
American Chesson Hadley, who won last year’s Puerto Rico Open by two shots and was named PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, launched his title defence with a 71.