NAPA, Calif. — The new PGA Tour season felt like an old one to a trio of Ryder Cup players Thursday at the Frys.com Open.
Hunter Mahan, Matt Kuchar and Jimmy Walker met on the 10th tee at Silverado. With a morning chill in the air and beautiful scenery of Napa Valley, it was vaguely similar to the rolling hills of Gleneagles just two weeks ago at the Ryder Cup.
Except that no one was singing. There was hardly anyone in the grandstand, or on the golf course.
“It’s a little strange off the tee when no one is really here at 7:45,” Mahan said after opening with a 2-under 70, leaving him four shots out of the lead. “And out there at 7, everyone is singing along and the party is already started.”
It was back to normal for those three Americans, along with Lee Westwood of England, who made two late birdies to salvage a 73.
And it was another chance for Andres Gonzalez, who made it back to the PGA Tour for the third time. He has yet to keep his card, and while this was only the first round of the new wraparound season, he was plenty happy with no bogeys on his card and a 6-under 66.
Bae Sang-moon made seven birdies in the afternoon and joined Gonzalez at 66. They were a shot ahead of Martin Laird. Brooks Koepka was in a large group at 68.
The star attraction at the Frys.com Open was the Ryder Cup trio, and there were about 500 people tagging along by the end of their round. The par-5 ninth summed up the round for each of them.
Mahan lagged perfectly from 75 feet for a two-putt birdie. Kuchar showed off a sharp short game, and his pitch from short of the green struck the pin and settled about a foot away. He shot 71. Walker thought his full wedge was perfect until it took a hard hop and landed in a gnarly spot in the rough, leading to a bogey and a 75.
Most of them would have preferred at least another week off.
Walker is defending a title for the first time in his career. Mahan and Kuchar are at the Frys.com Open as part of a deal with the PGA Tour for letting them play an exhibition in Turkey two years ago. Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy also were supposed to play this year until they deferred, McIlroy because he was wiped out from a busy summer of winning back-to-back majors, Woods while he tries to regain his explosiveness from back surgery earlier in the year.
Lewis leads by one: In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, top-ranked Stacy Lewis shot a 6-under 65 on Thursday to take a one-stroke lead at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia, the second event of the tour’s six-tournament Asian swing.
Lewis birdied the par-5 16th hole to break away from a tight leaderboard at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club. Tied for second were the South Korean quartet of Na Yeon Choi, Hee Young Park, Eun Hee Ji and So Yeon Ryu.
Golfers from South Korea have won six of the last seven LPGA tournaments.
Amy Yang of South Korea and China’s Shanshan Feng were among a group tied for sixth after shooting 67.
Natalie Gulbis shot 69, Karrie Webb carded 70, and Lexi Thompson — who won by four strokes here last year — had a 71. Paula Creamer shot 75.
“My goal was to shoot a 1 or 2 under on the front and I got off to a good start,” Lewis said. “It was kind of shaky on the first three holes but I just hung in there and gave myself a lot of birdie chances and I was fortunate to make a few. So it was a little bit of an ugly round, but I got a lot out of it.”
Choi, who teed off from the 10th, said she was pleased to be only one stroke behind after nearly putting her ball in the water on her approach on the par-4 second hole, her 11th of the day.
“I had one bogey out there, but I was lucky the ball did not roll into the water,” Choi said. “I hope to come back with a good feeling tomorrow.”
Feng finished tied for 49th in her native China last week, and was happy to be playing away from home this week.
“I’m more relaxed,” Feng said. “Last week, I think people wanted me to win again, and I told everybody I was not going to give myself pressure, but I think I still did a little bit. I tried too hard and actually it went the wrong way.”
Last week, South Korea’s Mirim Lee won the Reignwood Classic in Beijing for her second victory of the year. The LPGA KEB-HanaBank is next week in South Korea, followed by the Blue Bay LPGA in China.
Colsaerts shoots 60 in first round: In Vilamoura, Portugal, Nicolas Colsaerts of Belgium shot a brilliant 11-under 60 to take a three-shot lead of the Portugal Masters in the opening round on Thursday.
Colsaerts came close to setting a European Tour record of 59 when his birdie putt missed on the par-4 18th hole.
Colsaerts made eagles on the 15th and 17th after hitting seven birdies through a near flawless first day at the Oceanico Victoria Golf Club.
It was the 19th time the score of 60 has been reached on the European Tour.
Scott Jamieson and Alexander Levy were both three strokes behind in joint second.
Rafa Cabrera-Bello was four strokes back, followed by a group of four one more shot behind.
The round was suspended late due to rain. It will be finished early Friday.