Chalmers takes Congressional lead

Greg Chalmers carded a five-under-par 66 to claim a one-shot lead after the first round of the Quickens Loans National on Thursday.

The Australian is one stroke ahead American Ricky Barnes and Sweden’s Freddie Jacobson at Congressional Country Club, while defending champion Bill Haas, South African Tyrone van Aswegen and Americans Erik Compton and Patrick Reed are all on three-under.

Former world number one Tiger Woods, who is playing in his first tournament in three months following surgery on his back, languished down in a tie of 83rd position following a three-over-par round of 74.

“I put in a new driver this week. It’s going really well,” Chalmers told reporters from the clubhouse after the round.

“I really drove the ball the best I’ve driven it all year. That was exciting and that set up the rest of the round.

“I’m really pleased. That gave me a lot of confidence and I fed off that. Finishing with three straight birdies is always nice.

“Putting is a strength to my game, but it’s part of the game that you need to do well if you want to be successful.

“If I have a day like today, where I strike the ball well, I can shoot a low number.”

Chalmers is bidding to become the seventh Aussie to win on the PGA Tour this year after Jason Day, Adam Scott, John Senden, Every, Bowditch and Matt Jones all tasted victory at some point in the year so far. This mini milestone is a distinct possibility, when Betbright’s improving Chalmers stakes are taken into account.

“There’s a long way to go,” Chalmers said.

“I had a really nice day, and I’m proud of that and that’s great.

“How that transpires into the rest of the week is what matters. By the time I get on the tee tomorrow, there’s a chance I’ll be three or four behind. It’s nice at the moment but it doesn’t mean a whole lot.”