Nate Lashley goes low to grab Rocket Mortgage Classic lead

He only made the field as an alternate, but that didn’t stop Nate Lashley from firing a 63 to take the first-round lead at the Rocket Mortgage Classic.

Lashley tried and failed to qualify for a spot in the field earlier this week, but his decision to stay in Detroit and hope a spot opened up in the field paid off in spades.

The 36-year-old, who started the 2019 PGA Tour on a minor medical extension after suffering a knee injury in his rookie season last year, fired nine birdies in a bogey-free round of 63 – the best of his PGA Tour career – to earn a one-shot lead over fellow Americans Nick Watney and Ryan Armour.

“Hopefully, can play well this week and continue to play well and lock up my card,” said Lashley.

“I’m just trying to play relaxed and confident golf.”

Lying two shots back is a large group of seven that included last week’s Travelers Championship winner Chez Reavie, Charles Howell III and Stewart Cink.

“I’m entering the week as if I didn’t win last week,” Reavie said. “I’m out here grinding as I do every week and looking forward to the challenge. I like old-school golf courses. I like being able to work it off slopes on the greens.”

World No 2 Dustin Johnson, meanwhile could only manage a one-under 71, while US Open winner Gary Woodland had a 73.

“I definitely didn’t get prepared as much as I like to, but that’s no excuse,” said Woodland, who nearly holed out from the fairway at the last.

Johnson had two double-bogeys on his card after a wayward day from tee to green, but did wow the galleries with a late chip-in from the rough.

“I think come out (Friday) morning and shooting a good score, I’ll be back in the tournament,” he said.

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