Beautiful sunny skies ushered in the opening round of the 75th anniversary Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield Country Club in the Piedmont Triad region of North Carolina. At the end of the day, two North Carolina natives, Webb Simpson from Charlotte and William McGirt from Lumberton, are one stroke behind the leader, Camilo Villegas.
Villegas shot an opening round 7-under-par 63. Starting his first round on the back nine, he posted three birdies before the turn. A birdie on No. 4, eagle on No. 5, and birdie on No. 7 put him in sole possession of first place. His previous best round at The Wyndham was 64, during the second round in 2011. Villegas began the tournament 105th in the FedExCup point standings with 502 points. 125th place currently has 421 points.
Simpson, the 2011 Wyndham Championship winner, birdied his first four holes, and five of his first eight, en route to a six-under-par, 64. He took the outright lead with a birdie on No. 15 to move to seven under, before a bogey on 17, his only blemish. The Wake Forest University (Winston-Salem, N.C.) graduate is trying to become the first two-time champion at the Wyndham since Davis Love III won for the second time in 2006 – should he win the Wyndham on Sunday, he would be just the 10th golfer in tournament history with multiple wins here.
McGirt was the early leader in the clubhouse, shooting an opening round six-under-par, 64. He started his round bogey, birdie, bogey. After a par on No. 4, he birdied seven of his last 14 holes. He finished with eight birdies and two bogeys. The Wofford College (Spartanburg, S.C.) graduate is looking for his first-career victory. His best finish on TOUR is second place at both the 2012 and ‘13 RBC Canadian Open. This is the second time in McGirt’s past three tournaments that he has shot 64 in the first round (John Deere Classic). It is the third time this season he has tied his career low round of 64.
Justin Hicks (-1, 69) saw one of the most active rounds of the day. He posted seven birdies, three bogeys, one double bogey, and four pars in his round. He is tied for second in birdies on the day with Simpson, and one behind McGirt with eight.
The longest drive of the day belongs to Bo Van Pelt, who recorded a 381-yarder on Hole No. 5.
There have been eight players who have won The Wyndham twice, and a ninth, the legendary Sam Sneed, won the event eight times. Davis Love III won for the second time in 2006 and Rocco Mediate clinched a second victory in 2002. Both Love and Mediate are in this year’s field.
Since 1976, only four first-round leaders went on to win the Wyndham Championship. The last were Arjun Atwal in 2010 and Jesper Parnevik in 1999.
The Wyndham Championship victor has also been a PGA TOUR first-time winner in five of the last seven years.