Gibson leads finale; Glover, Saunders 1 back


PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Soft conditions at TPC Sawgrass made for some low scores in the first round of the final Tour event of the season. Here is how things look after one round at the Tour Championship, where Rhein Gibson leads by one:

Leaderboard: Rhein Gibson (-7), Sam Saunders (-6), Lucas Glover (-6), Oscar Fraustro (-6), D.H. Lee (-5), Si Woo Kim (-5), Kyle Stanley (-4)

What it means: Gibson has likely already clinched his card via Finals earnings, but he took a big step toward his first victory with an opening 63. The group chasing him includes Glover, the lone major winner in the field, while 11 players opened with rounds of 66 or better.

Round of the day: Gibson once shot a 55 in a mini-tour event, and his penchant for low scores was again on display during an opening round that included eight birdies and a bogey. The Aussie birdied four of his first eight holes en route to an outward 31 and needed only 24 putts.

Best of the rest: Glover went out in the afternoon wave and posted a 6-under 64. Like Gibson, his card for next year is essentially secure, and the former U.S. Open champ had the putter working during a five-birdie stretch from No. 18 to No. 4.

Biggest disappointment: Jhonattan Vegas entered this week on the bubble at No. 25 and got off to a strong start before things went south. Vegas birdied four of his first seven holes before a disastrous quadruple bogey on No. 17 after losing his drive in the rough. After bogeys on three of his final four holes, Vegas posted a 1-over 71 and is in danger of missing the cut.

Main storyline heading into Friday: While the race remains tight atop the leaderboard, the more compelling story may come from the projected cut line as players fight for every last dollar. In addition to Vegas, bubble boys like Billy Hurley III, Steve Allan, Bill Lunde and Tim Wilkinson all opened with 71 and have work to do in the second round.

Shot of the day: Smylie Kaufman authored an early highlight when he aced the par-3 11th, his second hole. The hole-in-one came from 221 yards and spurred Kaufman to a 4-under start through his first four holes, although he faded back to shoot 71.

Quote of the day: “It’s like the old saying goes. You dig your own grave, but luckily I’ve got a shovel.” – Glover, who last had to earn his PGA Tour card in 2004.