Hendrix Wilkinson Share Rd 1 Lead in Tennessee


Nationwide TourFARRAGUT, TN -- Matt Hendrix and Tim Wilkinson each posted rounds of 7-under-par 65 Thursday to share the lead after the opening round of the Knoxville Open.
Former U.S. Amateur champion Ricky Barnes is tied for third place with Jason Enloe and Richard Johnson at minus-6. Hunter Haas, David Mathis, Hiroshi Matsuo, Michael Sim, Parker McLachlin, and Joel Kribel are one stroke further back at 5-under-par 67.
Wilkinson got off to a hot start with back-to-back birdies from the first. However, he stumbled to a bogey on No. 3 at Fox Den Country Club. He parred his next three holes.
The 27-year-old caught fire from the seventh. Wilkinson drained a 20-foot birdie putt there, then birdied each of the next two holes, both par-4s.
Wilkinson continued his roll around the turn with a birdie from 15 feet out on the par-5 10th. Birdies on 11 and 12 moved the New Zealander to 7-under par.
He then birdied the par-three 13th. Wilkinson closed a run of eight straight birdies at the 14th by sinking a 20-footer. The eight consecutive birdies is one short of the tour record of nine, which has been accomplished three times.
Wilkinson parred three straight holes heading to the last at minus-9. However, he struggled to a double-bogey on the par-5 closing hole.
'I was disappointed in the finish, but happy with the round overall,' stated Wilkinson. 'I had a few choice words there on No. 18. However, I putted very well and that helped make the eight birdies in a row.'
Hendrix got off to an equally impressive start as he ran off three birdies in a row to open his round. After four pars, he birdied the par-4 eighth from 12 feet away to get to 4-under.
The 25-year-old, who was playing two groups behind Wilkinson, drained a birdie effort at the 12th and came right back with a birdie on 13. Hendrix poured in a eight-foot birdie putt at 15 to grab a share of the first-round leader.
'This was my best round of the season,' Hendrix admitted. 'I made a lot of good putts and hit some smart iron shots. This kind of round is out there because the scoring conditions are just perfect. I've been doing a lot of things right, but just not capitalizing. I've been playing well, but not really well.'
Gary Hallberg, Steve Marino, Tim O'Neal, Brenden Pappas, Michael Putnam, Chez Reavie, Boo Weekley and Michael Boyd share 12th at 4-under-par 68.
Kim Felton, last year's winner, is tied for 76th at even-par 72.
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