Kuchar cards 66, shares early Heritage lead


After a number of recent close calls, it should come as no surprise that Matt Kuchar is again high on a PGA Tour leaderboard. Here's how things stand after the first round of the RBC Heritage, where Kuchar is among three co-leaders after opening with a bogey-free 66:

Leaderboard: Matt Kuchar (-5), Scott Langley (-5), William McGirt (-5), Harris English (-3), Jordan Spieth, Billy Horschel, Matt Every among 15 players at -2

What it means: Kuchar has struggled to close on Sundays, notably squandering a four-shot lead during the final round in Houston two weeks ago, but the first three rounds have proved little issue. That trend continued Thursday as Kuchar produced one of the best scores from the morning wave, though winners like English, Horschel and Every lurk just a couple of shots off the early pace.

Round of the day: This was Kuchar's 39th round at Harbour Town, and remarkably the first one he completed without a bogey. He started on the back nine and turned in 2-under 33, adding two more birdies coming home before finishing with a birdie at the par-4 ninth. One of the game's best ball-strikers, Kuchar found 14 of 18 greens in regulation and took just 27 putts.

Best of the rest: Langley briefly held sole possession of the lead, reaching 6 under before a closing bogey at No. 18. Langley factored last month at Innisbrook and got off to a quick start Thursday, with six birdies on the front nine, including a stretch of four straight on Nos. 4-7. Langley rolled in seven birdies despite hitting only 12 of 18 greens in regulation, and as a result shares the lead as he looks to win on the PGA Tour for the first time.

Biggest disappointment: Russell Henley won earlier this season at PGA National, and the University of Georgia grad has plenty of experience with golf in the southeast. The 24-year-old got off to a rocky start, though, with four bogeys across his first eight holes en route to a 5-over 76. Henley found only nine of 18 greens and carded seven bogeys, and after a strong showing at Augusta National he appears headed for an early exit from Hilton Head.

Biggest storyline heading into Friday: Kuchar is the biggest name in contention, and based on his recent play seems overdue for a win. English, a resident of nearby Sea Island, Ga., will also be a player to watch, as as will Spieth, who opened with a 2-under 69 after narrowly missing out on his first green jacket last week. Weather is expected to become an issue Friday and Saturday, so the players who are best able to deal with the elements will likely be the names battling for the tartan jacket come Sunday afternoon.

Quote of the day: "I'm pretty pleased. I've been playing some good golf, and it's nice to see it continue." - Kuchar