BETHESDA, Md. — It turned out there were good scores to be had at TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm.
Whether that remains the case for the duration of the Quicken Loans National is a mystery.
Despite red numbers clogging the scoreboards Thursday during the first round of the PGA Tour’s annual stop north of the nation’s capital, players weren’t moved enough to believe the rugged course spread out over a former cattle ranch is a pushover.
They know they had it good in the first round, as light winds did little to influence play and greens that were hand-watered Wednesday evening and Thursday morning proved manageably receptive for most of the day.
“I was able to hit a lot of fairways, which is key if you want to make some birdies. Obviously putted quite well. Those were two main things out here, hit a lot of fairways and give yourself some chances and hopefully the putts will go in,” said David Lingmerth, who set the pace with a 5-under-par 65.
Lingmerth, who won the 2015 Memorial at Jack Nicklaus’ place in Ohio, also called on some good feelings during his round. He won the 2012 Neediest Kids Championship on the Web.com Tour here at Avenel.
“This is a great golf course. It sets up well for me,” he said. “Obviously anytime you come back to a golf course where you’ve won, you have great memories from the get-go. It just brings back good thoughts in my head and I know that I can probably contend here and play well. Had a solid first day, so now it’s just a matter of keeping it going.”
A lot of players had it going. Six players finished a stroke behind Lingmerth at 66 — 2015 Quicken Loans champion Troy Merritt, Daniel Summerhays, Marc Leishman, Johnson Wagner, Sung Kang and Nick Taylor.
At 67 were seven players, including Patrick Reed. At 68 were 11 players. At 69 were six.
All this came after defending champion Billy Hurley, who practices and plays out of TPC Potomac, said earlier this week that there “are no low scores here.” For some, there weren’t any. Si Woo Kim, The Players champion, shot 79. Justin Thomas, who’s won three times this season and shot 63 in the U.S. Open, took a quadruple-bogey 9 on the par-5 10th and shot 74. In the field of 118, 19 players didn’t break 75.
And now the heat comes — the forecast calls for three consecutive days…