Greeted by calm conditions and receptive greens, players were able to take advantage of Sedgefield Country Club during Thursday's opening round of the Wyndham Championship. Here's how things look after one round in Greensboro, where Chris Stroud and Ross Fisher cling to a slim advantage over several players:
Leaderboard: Chris Stroud (-6), Ross Fisher (-6), Sergio Garcia (-5), Jordan Spieth (-5), Trevor Immelman (-5), Matt Jones (-5), Robert Garrigus (-5), Andrew Svoboda (-5), Morgan Hoffmann (-5), Patrick Reed (-5).
What it means: Low scores were abundant Thursday in North Carolina, but no one compiled a better round than did Stroud and Fisher. After losing a playoff at the Travelers Championship in June, Stroud has his eyes on finishing one shot better this week in Greensboro. Fisher, a four-time winner on the European Tour and a PGA Tour rookie, was in the day's final threesome to start on the back nine. A large group of players are just one shot back after 18 holes, though, including Garcia, the defending champion, and Spieth, who won last month at the John Deere Classic and remains one of the hottest players on the PGA Tour.
Rounds of the day: A runner-up to Ken Duke at TPC River Highlands, Stroud carded eight birdies in his opening round en route to a 6-under 64. Starting on the back nine, the 31-year-old began with three birdies across his first six holes, adding five more during his inward trip across the front nine. Stroud made the most of things on the green, carding the day’s low score despite hitting just 11 of 18 greens in regulation Thursday at Sedgefield. Fisher started on the back nine, making birdies at Nos. 10 and 18, then made two more birdies and an eagle on his second nine.
Best of the rest: After winning by three shots here a year ago, Garcia opened his title defense in fine fashion, carding a bogey-free 65 during the opening round. The Spaniard birdied each of his first two holes Thursday at Sedgefield, adding red numbers on holes 11, 13 and 15 to sit among a large group just one shot behind Stroud and Fisher after just 18 holes. It's Garcia's eighth sub-par round in nine tries at Sedgefield, where he now boasts a stellar 65.8 scoring average.
Biggest disappointment: At 129th in the latest FedEx Cup standings, Padraig Harrington needed a strong week in Greensboro to give himself a chance of making the first playoff event at Liberty National. Instead, the 3-time major champion stumbled to a 3-over 73 Thursday that included just two birdies and will struggle just to make the 36-hole cut. While Harrington’s playing privileges for the 2013-14 season are likely secure based on his standing on the season-long money list, his playoff chances took a big hit during the opening round at Sedgefield.
Main storyline heading into Friday: While Stroud continues his quest for a first career PGA Tour victory, several players will look to Friday's second round as an opportunity to secure playing privileges for next season. Stuart Appleby, Peter Hanson and Shawn Stefani are among the FedEx Cup bubble boys who began with a strong effort Thursday at Sedgefield and will look to continue that momentum, while players like Harrington, Bud Cauley and Chad Campbell will need low rounds Friday to simply have a chance to play the weekend.
Shot of the day: Three years ago, Arjun Atwal began the week in Greensboro at a Monday qualifier and ended it as the Wyndham champ. This week, the veteran got things started quickly Thursday morning with an eagle-2 at the par-4 13th hole. After his tee shot left him in the fairway 148 yards from the hole, Atwal fired an accurate approach to a back left pin that dropped for an eagle, a shot that spurred the former champ to a 1-under 69 Thursday.
Quote of the day: “I guess it’s just one of those places where, for the most part, I feel like I know where I want to be.” – Garcia, who hit 17 of 18 greens in regulation during Thursday’s opening round