FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) – Harry Hall has no more reason to be disappointed with his recent placement. The PGA Tour rookie from England took just 22 shots, the last of which was an 8-foot birdie for an 8-under 62 that gave him an early four-shot lead in the Charles Schwab Challenge.
Hall’s first time playing the Colonial was off to a dream start – eight birdies along with a pair of pars from 15 feet and 30 feet.
Tom Hoge, who played his college golf at TCU and now makes Fort Worth his home, made a run for eagle from the seventh fairway en route to a 66.
Scottie Scheffler, who returned to world No. 1 with a tie for second place at the PGA Championship, and defending champion Sam Burns were in the big group with 67s among the early starters. Burn beat Scheffler in the playoffs last year with a 45-foot putt.
Jordan Spieth didn’t make his lone birdie until the eighth hole to open with a 72.
Michael Block, the California club pro who starred at Oak Hill last week when he made a hole-in-one and two big par putts in the final four holes to tie for 15th in the PGA Championship, played the afternoon.
Blok signed a contract with management company WME Sports and circulated to the media. He opened his round with three straight bogeys.
Hall played his college golf at UNLV and No. 99 in the FedEx Cup, a reasonable rookie season that included a pair of top 10s in Puerto Rico and the Mexico Open.
He changed up his routine this week by playing 36 practice holes at Colonial – a Monday pro-am followed by nine holes on Tuesday and Wednesday. That helps, along with his bat.
“Maybe that’s the key, just seeing a little more times than I have in the past,” Hall said. “I wasn’t too different. I just simplified things a bit.”
Early on, he held it simple, twice for birdie on the par-5 hole, then made a 10-foot birdie putt. That doesn’t mean it was always easy. Hall made a 15-footer for par on the next hole, then got up and down twice to save par.
He missed seven greens and played those holes in 1 under, the biggest chip for birdie from about 80 feet on the 12th hole to put him at 7 under with six holes to play. He made just one birdie the rest of the way, but his longest putt was 30 feet for the par 15.
“I was really in the moment and determined to play good golf,” Hall said. “7 out of 7 bogeys doesn’t really surprise me because it’s the best part of my game, but the way I hit the ball in the first two-thirds of that round was pretty special.”
Hoge, who grew up in North Dakota, is so passionate about his Horned Frogs that he flew from Maui to Los Angeles to watch TCU in the college championship game (a loss to Georgia), then flew back to Hawaii for the Sony Open.
He got off to a decent start until his round came to a screeching halt. He came to life on No. 6 when his approach missed the cup by inches. And then on the seventh he hit an 8-iron 157 yards straight into the cup for eagle.
It’s just the start he needed after missing the cut at Colonial the last three times.
“The last couple of years, I’ve really struggled on Thursday and then kind of struggled on Friday to try to make the cut,” Hoge said. “The focus this year was definitely to try to get off to a good start, try to be a little more patient and let the round come to me. Making a few birdies out of the stick was really nice.”
Scheffler wasn’t sure what to make of his round. He felt it could have been better than his 67, and at times he felt it was getting away from him. In the end, he concluded that anything below par never hurt at the Colonial.
One example of how it could have gotten away from him came in the fifth. With the wind at his back, Scheffler thought the driver was too much and decided to hit the fade with a 3-wood. It turned into more of a slice and headed for danger. It rattled among the trees.
“The next thing I know, I saw the ball bounce, and I actually had a shot from the middle of the fairway,” he said. “Huge break there. In the end I was able to take advantage of that and make a birdie. It was definitely a swing or two, I would say, throughout the round.”
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