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RIDGELAND, S.C. – Wes Roach went where he’d never gone before.
The journeyman who has bounced back and forth between the PGA Tour and Korn Ferry Tour since 2012, who is ranked No. 433 in the world, grabbed the lead after the conclusion of round on the PGA Tour for the first time in his career.
With a 7-under-par 64 – just one shot off his career low on Tour – Roach was one shot clear of the field after Thursday’s first round of the Palmetto Championship at Congaree. It is the first time he grabbed the outright lead after any round in his 88 starts on the PGA Tour.
“It feels great,” Roach said of the first lead of his career. His best career finish on the PGA Tour is a tie for third in the 2019 Rocket Mortgage Classic. “Hard work paying off a little bit. It’s just 18 holes and there’s a long ways to go, but I’m just going to do my best to stay present out there and just continue to hit quality shots.
“I did everything pretty well. I drove it nice, I putted as good as I have in a while and I made it from 104 yards on the 4th hole, so that was a nice bonus as well.”
Those 104 holes on the fourth came from the fairway on his third shot as he made eagle on the 633-yard par-5. That put him at 4 under through four holes. He went on to post a front-nine 30 – the third of his career and first since 2014.
“I got off to a good start. I made a nice par, a nice up-and-down from the sand on 1. And then made a couple birdies and then I holed out there on 4. It was kind of on cruise control,” he said. “I hit a lot of good shots kind of right where I was looking up until I guess right around 12 and 13, got a little bit off, but relied on my short game a little bit and was able to make a few pars.
“And then made another birdie coming in on 16. So it was a good day.”
Roach, 32, had missed the cut in half of his eight starts on Tour this season and posted a season-best tie for 13th in the Puerto Rico Open. But he recently changed putters and is leading the field in putting through one round.
“I’ve been hitting the ball pretty well for the majority of the year and my putter has just, it wasn’t very good, to be honest,” he said. “So kind of mixed things up a little bit a few weeks ago back home and everything’s in a good spot right now.”
World No. 1 Dustin Johnson was a shot back at 65. Joining him there were Erik van Rooyen, Chesson Hadley and Doc Redman. At 66 was Jhonattan Vegas.
In a large group at 67 was Harris English. Among those at 68 were Tommy Fleetwood and Ian Poulter.
World No. 8 Brooks Koepka, playing for the first time since finishing in a tie for second in the PGA Championship, birdied the last to shoot 72. The last four times he failed to break par in the first round of a PGA Tour event he missed the cut.