2018 Byron Nelson: Marc Leishman sets course record in Round 1 at Trinity Forest
As far as first rounds at new courses go, this was a pretty good one for Trinity Forest in Round 1 of the 2018 AT&T Byron Nelson. Marc Leishman shot a course record 10-under 61 and leads by three over J.J. Spaun and Jimmy Walker. Leishman’s day included a pair of eagles and a 29 on the back nine.
Straight fire, as they say.
“It was certainly one of the best driving days I’ve had,” Leishman said. “Hit everything, every fairway. That’s important around here. The fairways are generous. You still have to hit them. That was nice. Iron play was great and then didn’t feel like I was .. having to hit too many chip shots. The putter was hot. That combination is a nice way to start the tournament and shoot a low round.”
It’s the lowest round of Leishman’s career, but it’s probably not a surprise that the big Australian played so well on this course. Trinity Forest has Open Championship-like vibes, and Leishman has finished in the top 10 there in three of the last four years.
As we head for Friday and onto the weekend, Leishman will have chasers but only one other major champion (Walker) inside the top 20. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens with scores as the week moves on. A 1-under 70 didn’t crack the top 75 on Thursday, but if the wind howls, a 1-under score could look heroic. And Leishman could be protecting that 10-under number for the next three days.
Here are three more thoughts on Round 1.
1. Jordan Spieth was average: Spieth only had one bogey, but he couldn’t string together many birdies and finished the day with a 2-under 69, eight back of the lead. That left him down about his T57 position after 18 holes.
“Looking back the last year and a half, I’ve had maybe four, five opportunities where I’ve actually been in a tournament after the first round, which is really frustrating,” Spieth said. “Just the Thursdays for whatever reason just haven’t been good days for me. The Masters this year being the only opportunity this year, and a few of my wins last year and maybe one other event.”
He’ll have a lot of ground to make up over the next two days to get into position on Sunday. And he’s hoping the wind howls.
“I hate playing in a dome,” Spieth said. “I’m excited there’s wind. I wish it was windy everyday. I really struggled when there’s been no wind compared to the field this year, and today was no different.”
2. The course wasn’t beloved: This course is absolutely fascinating, but it’s apparently not for everyone. It was playing slow and wide on Thursday, and that did not please Matt Kuchar (who shot 1-over 72).
Leishman, of course, loved it.
“I really like the golf course,” Leishman said. “It’s a links course, clearly. When it’s firm like it is now it plays like a proper links course which is good. I think they’ve done a really good job building the base properly, I guess so it is firm.
“I think if it was soft it would be a very difficult but it’s firm so I really like it. I think with a bit of wind it’s going to be very different. Some years this tournament, 20 under is going to win, and some years that single digits are going to win, weather-dependent.”
3. The heat is coming: On a course with no trees and temperatures expected to rise near 100 degrees over the next few days, we’re sure to get our first “how will these guys hold up on the weekend?” event of the year. The course is going to bake, but so are the players, and the sun (not the wind) could be a determining factor as to who holds a trophy on Sunday evening.