GREENSBORO, N.C. – If any member’s bounces went Carl Pettersson’s way Thursday at Sedgefield Country Club, well, there’s a good reason for that.
That’s right – I am a member, Pettersson said, laughing. I forgot.
Pettersson shot an 8-under 62 to take the first-round lead in the Wyndham Championship.
David Mathis and Tim Clark were a stroke back, Tom Gillis, Scott Stallings and Troy Matteson shot 64, and Matt Every had a 65 in the final event before the FedEx Cup playoffs.
The top of the leader board had a decidedly local flavor. Pettersson went to high school in Greensboro and lives in Raleigh, and both he and Clark played at North Carolina State. Mathis grew up in Winston-Salem, played collegiately at Campbell and lives north of Raleigh in the town of Wake Forest.
Pettersson, a Swede who became an American citizen during the offseason, had the best first round of his PGA Tour career and his best round at this event since 2008, when he set the tournament record with a second-round 61 and went on to win in his adopted hometown.
Starting on the back nine, he reeled off consecutive birdies on Nos. 5-8 to move to 8 under. He had a chance to match his record on No. 9, but pushed his 30-foot birdie putt roughly a foot to the right of the hole.
Pettersson was part of one of the most closely followed threesomes of the day, joining U.S. Open champ Webb Simpson (Wake Forest) and Davis Love III (North Carolina) as previous winners of this tournament who played for schools in the Atlantic Coast Conference – which was founded here in 1953.
They helped make the first round feel a bit like the ACC tournament.
Playing with two ACC guys, there’s a lot of Go Pack!’ and Go Heels!’ Simpson said.
Some of those N.C. State cheers could have been saved for Clark, a star with the Wolfpack in the mid-1990s before Pettersson enrolled. He was bogey-free and had an eagle on the par-5 fifth.
He landed his second shot roughly 8 feet from the flagstick and sank the ensuing putt for one of the 11 eagles on that hole.
I’ve got to keep pace with Carl, Clark said. When he goes low, he really goes low. If I’m able to hang in there, it’s going to be a lot of fun.
Mathis was bogey-free and had three straight birdies on Nos. 13-15 to move to 7 under before closing his round with three pars.
U.S. AMATEUR: In Cherry Hills Village, Colo., Justin Thomas beat fellow University of Alabama player Bobby Wyatt to advance to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Amateur championship.
The 19-year-old Thomas won 1 up in the match-play contest against the top-seeded Wyatt, who equaled a tournament record in stroke-play qualifying by shooting 9-under 132.
He told me, Good match,’ said Thomas, who lives across the hall from Wyatt at the Alabama campus. I told him, Good match. Sorry.’ It’s tough. In my situation, there’s nothing right to say. We’ve all been there.
Thomas will face Australian Oliver Goss, a 2-and-1 winner over Bobby Leopold of Cranston, R.I.
Chris Williams of Moscow, Idaho, who is first in the world amateur rankings, also got in to the quarterfinals by defeating Edouard Espana of France 3 and 2. Williams will face Steven Fox of Hendersonville, Tenn., who advanced with a 2-up victory over Zack Munroe of Charlotte, N.C.
Cheng-Tsung Pan of Taiwan, who plays at the University of Washington, was a 2-up winner over Andrew Presley of Fort Worth, Texas. Pan will face Brandon Hagy of Westlake Village, Calif. Hagy, who attends the University of California, beat Patrick Newcomb of Benton, Ky., 3 and 2.
Richard Gouveia of Portugal defeated Devon Purser of Clearfield, Utah, 6 and 4, and will face Michael Weaver of Fresno, Calif., who won in 19 holes over Canadian Albin Choi.
Thomas Pieters of Belgium lost his second-round match to Choi 4 and 3 earlier Thursday despite acing the par-3 sixth hole at Cherry Hills.