(Reuters) – Britain’s Matt Wallace and Colombia’s Camilo Villegas shared a one-stroke lead after players struggled through windy conditions in the first round of the RSM Classic on Thursday.
Wallace started strongly with five birdies and a bogey on the front nine at the Seaside Course in Sea Island, Georgia and drained a 30-foot putt for par on the 18th, carding six-under par 64.
“My putting hasn’t been where it should be and it was the area I needed to work on the most,” said Wallace, who opted for a no-sightline putter this week after tinkering with his short game.
Four-time PGA Tour winner Villegas, who started on the back nine, joined Wallace at the top of the leaderboard courtesy of a birdie on his final hole, the par-four ninth. He had a total of six birdies in the flawless round.
Villegas took a break from competitive action after his 22-month-old daughter Mia, who had been battling brain and spine tumors, died in July.
Following her death, many players wore small rainbow pins on their caps after Villegas said his daughter had loved rainbows.
On Thursday, the 38-year-old thought of Mia as he prepared to play.
“When I got on the range and I saw a rainbow, hey, listen, here it is. She loved colors and rainbows and my wife was all about it. And it was cool,” said Villegas. “It was a nice way to start the day.”
Wallace and Villegas will face an uphill battle to retain the lead in the second round on Friday, with eight players tied for third place.
(Reporting by Amy Tennery, editing by Pritha Sarkar)