John Huh fired a career-low nine-under par 61 to seize an early two-stroke lead in Thursday’s opening round of the US PGA’s Wyndham Championship.
The 32-year-old American made seven birdies and an eagle in a bogey-free round to grab a two-stroke lead over South Korean Im Sung-jae at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, North Carolina.
“I’m actually surprised I’m at the top of the leaderboard,” Huh said. “I didn’t really feel my game was there, but it’s one of those days where I took advantage of some good shots and good breaks.
“Shoot my career low, it’s kind of weird. Sort of mixed feeling, but I’ll take this any day.”
Huh’s best prior PGA rounds were 62s at the 2013 Wyndham and 2016 Shriners Children’s Open.
Huh, whose only PGA title came at the 2012 Mayakoba Classic after an eight-hole playoff, sank a nine-foot birdie putt on the first hole and reeled off five consecutive birdies starting at the fourth hole.
“I hit it close enough, gave myself a chance,” Huh said. “I put it pretty much inside 10 feet and made all that.”
At the par-5 15th, Huh drove the green in two and sank a 38-foot eagle putt with some help from the flagstick.
“I knew it was going to be a quick one,” Huh said. “I hit a good stroke, hit my line. I got lucky that it hit the flagstick and went in the hole. It was just one of those holes where you hit your spot and hopefully it goes in.”
Huh added a birdie putt from just inside four feet at the 17th and closed with a par from about the same distance.
Huh began the day 111th in FedEx Cup points with only the top 125 after Sunday’s final round qualifying for the PGA playoffs that begin next week in Memphis.
“I know what’s on the line. I know how important this tournament would be,” Huh said. “At the same time you’ve just got to go and play and I think I did that really well.”
Im eagled both par-5 holes on his way to a 63 to stand second. His only equal or better rounds came in winning last October’s Shriners Children’s Open.
Australian Cameron Percy and Americans Brian Stuard, Aaron Wise, Ben Kohles and Austin Smotherman shared third on 65.
Smotherman, a rookie in the 125th and final playoff position, matched his best PGA round.