Molinari takes early lead at Wells Fargo

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It's a new venue this week for the Wells Fargo Championship, but players still managed to find plenty of birdies in the opening round. Here's how things stand after the first day in Wilmington, where a former Ryder Cupper holds a slim advantage:

Leaderboard: Francesco Molinari (-6), Grayson Murray (-5), Brian Campbell (-5), Alex Noren (-5), J.B. Holmes (-5), Seamus Power (-4)

What it means: Molinari set the early pace, but he was briefly caught by Campbell and then passed by Murray. When the two Americans dropped shots down the stretch, it left Molinari atop the leaderboard as he looks for his first official PGA Tour win. Among those one shot off the pace are Campbell, who earned the Tour's first slow-play penalty in 22 years last week, and Holmes, who won this event at Quail Hollow in 2014.

Round of the day: Molinari has been a consistent presence on worldwide leaderboards since his win at the Italian Open in the fall, and that trend continued with an opening-round 66. Molinari made just two bogeys while rolling in eight birdies, including five in a seven-hole stretch from Nos. 3-9 to distance himself from the rest of the early wave.

Best of the rest: Murray has received more attention for his Twitter presence than his on-course game in recent weeks, having endured a run of five straight missed cuts. But he finished T-14 last week at the Zurich and then poured in nine birdies en route to an opening 67. Murray birdied three of his first four holes and was the only player to reach 7 under before closing with bogeys on his final two holes.

Biggest disappointment: Carl Pettersson was one of few players with some experience at Eagle Point, but it didn't help him during the opening round. Pettersson is a member at this week's venue and currently holds the course record with a 62, but he was 17 shots higher Thursday during a 7-ovver 79 that included no birdies and left him ahead of only two players in the 156-man field.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Molinari's consistent ball-striking makes him a clear player to watch, but he'll also receive plenty of heat from the chase pack. Among those to watch are Jon Rahm, who opened with a 3-under 69, and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, who showed no signs of injury while signing for a 2-under 70 in his first round since March.

Shot of the day: Molinari was left of the 18th green with his approach, but he managed to hole the subsequent 25-foot chip shot for a closing birdie, his eighth of the day.

Quote of the day: "As far as physically, no issues. That's a good thing. I just need to get some rounds in." - Johnson