(Reuters) – Kevin Streelman, helped by a tip from his coach and inspired by his beloved Chicago Cubs, fired a sizzling nine-under-par 63 to lead the PGA Tour’s Sanderson Farms Championship by two strokes in Jackson, Mississippi on Thursday.
Taking advantage of ideal conditions on a steamy day of low scoring at the Country Club of Jackson, Streelman mixed 10 birdies with a lone bogey to soar to the top of the leaderboard after the opening round.
Swede Carl Pettersson holed out from 162 yards to eagle the par-four 16th en route to a 65 and a tie for second with American Trey Mullinax and Ireland’s Seamus Power, while 2009 U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover was one of seven players on 66.
For Streelman, it was a day when “everything just kind of clicked” as he launched his bid for a third PGA Tour victory in impressive fashion.
“It was just a ton of fun for me, it’s what we do this for,” Streelman, 37, told Golf Channel after sinking an eight-foot birdie putt on his final hole, the par-four ninth. “There are certain days when things click. I think we all have them.
“I got a little tip from my coach before the round and I’m just trying to feel a little bit more rotation on top of my shots … I got the club in front of me and I was just up and around the flagsticks all day.
“I’m hoping that feeling can continue the rest of the week,” said Streelman, whose most recent PGA Tour win came at the 2014 Travelers Championship.
The Illinois native was given a timely jolt of motivation for this week’s tournament by his beloved Cubs, who squared Major League Baseball’s World Series at 1-1 with a 5-1 Game Two win over the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday.
“I’ll be watching the Cubbies this weekend,” Streelman said of Games Three, Four and Five, all to be played in Chicago.
“They inspired me last night. Jake (Arrieta) pitched awesome and they (Cubs fans) are pretty stoked up in Chicago right now.”
(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue)