Three share Hero lead; Spieth 1 back


Under sunny skies and amid ideal scoring conditions, there wasn't much separation among the limited field at the Hero World Challenge. Here's how things look after the first round at Albany, where three share the lead and the defending champ lurks one shot off the pace:

Leaderboard: Jimmy Walker (-6), Zach Johnson (-6), Paul Casey (-6), Jordan Spieth (-5), Brooks Koepka (-5), Adam Scott (-5), Bill Haas (-5), Bubba Watson (-5)

What it means: It's still very much a logjam at the top, as nearly half of the 18 players in the field either share the lead or sit one shot back. That group is headed by a trio of co-leaders that includes Johnson, who won this event in California in 2013, while Spieth, who won last year at Isleworth, is among the big names that turned in rounds of 67.

Round of the day: Walker started slowly, but picked up the pace significantly on the back nine. After making the turn in even-par 36, he added birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before reeling off four in a row on Nos. 14-17. Already a winner twice this year, Walker struggled a bit toward the end of the season but appears to have once again found his game.

Best of the rest: Casey would not have been on the short list of potential entrants for this event when the year started, but after a successful campaign he earned a ticket to the Bahamas and made the most of his opportunity with a bogey-free 66 in the opening round. The Englishman had two birdies on the front side before adding four circles on his inward half, including a birdie on the par-4 18th.

Biggest disappointment: When there are only 18 players in the field, a bad round sticks out a bit more. Hideki Matsuyama was the only player who failed to break par during the opening round, carding a 3-over 75 that left him nine shots back. Matsuyama was under par until the home hole, where he carded a disastrous quadruple-bogey 8.

Main storyline heading into Friday: It remains to be seen if anyone can separate from the field, but the player to watch is still Spieth. After lapping the field at Isleworth a year ago, the world No. 1 got things going with an early ace and is now 31 under par over his last five rounds in this tournament. Expect him to remain a factor well into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Spieth made his hole-in-one on the second hole, holing a 6-iron from 172 yards. It was the third ace of his career and helped to spur a round that also included three birdies without any bogeys.