Ling­merth takes Quicken Loans first-round lead.

Ling­merth’s birdies give him Quicken Loans first-round lead

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY PETER SANTO

David Ling­merth, who won a Web. com Tour event at TPC Po­tomac in 2012, shot a 5-un­der 65 Thurs­day to take the first-round lead in the Quicken Loans Na­tional Thurs­day.

One stroke back was a group of six that in­cluded for­mer Quicken Loans Na­tional win­ner Troy Mer­ritt, Marc Leish­man, John­son Wag­ner, Sung Kang, Nick Tay­lor and Daniel Sum­mer­hays.

Ling­merth be­gan his round with a birdie on the dif­fi­cult par 5 10th and five birdies on his front nine. Ling­merth hit 12/14 fair­ways Thurs­day, tied for most in the field.

“I was able to hit a lot of fair­ways to­day which is key if you want to make some birdies,” Ling­merth said. “I putted quite well as well. Those are the two main things out here, hit a lot of fair­ways and give your­self some chances and hope­fully the putts will go in.”

Mer­ritt is com­ing off his best fin­ish of the sea­son last week with a T8 fin­ish at the Trav­el­ers Cham­pi­onship. That suc­cess car­ried over to Thurs­day.

“Very pleased [with my round],” Mer­ritt said. “The name of the game here be­fore we started was find the fair­way, and to­day we did that and we found 10

fair­ways. Two of the fair­ways we missed were just in the first cut and was able to get a pitch­ing wedge and a lob wedge on them.”

Wag­ner, who played his col­lege golf at Vir­ginia Tech, had a sim­i­larly good start last week, post­ing a 6-un­der par first round, but strug­gled the fi­nal three days.

“Well, last week I started 6 un­der par, but it was kind of smoke and mir­rors,” Wag­ner said. “I was ner­vous the whole next three days be­cause I was driv­ing the ball all over the place. To­day I felt re­ally calm, re­ally com­fort­able.”

Leish­man won the Arnold Palmer In­vi­ta­tional in March, but hasn’t posted a top-ten fin­ish since. He made three straight birdies on holes 13, 14, and 15 en route to a 66.

“I played well. It’s a tough start when you tee off on 10. It’s a tough tee shot on 10 and a tough tee shot on 11,” Leish­man said. “It’s a re­ally good golf course. If you play well you can make birdies, but if you’re a lit­tle bit off it’s re­ally pun­ish­ing. It was nice to­day that my short game was there when I did miss a shot.”

Sung Kang made two birdies on the front nine to go out in 33, and signed for a 66 af­ter a col­or­ful back nine that in­cluded four birdies and two bo­geys.

“I played pretty solid to­day. I hit some good iron shots and some pretty good tee balls. I think the tee ball is the key out here. I had a cou­ple three putts but still made a lot of putts,” Kang said.

Rickie Fowler — the high­est ranked player in the field at No. 9 — was 3-over af­ter two holes but bounced back nicely to card an even par 70.

“It was a good round af­ter the start. It isn’t play­ing easy out there, es­pe­cially you have to drive it in the fair­way. I feel like I drove it well other than the start and a cou­ple holes com­ing in. Yeah, not a bad start,” Fowler said.

De­fend­ing cham­pion and lo­cal fan fa­vorite Billy Hur­ley III made four bo­geys on the front nine — he be­gan the day on num­ber 10 — and signed for a 3-over par 73.

The event, best known for its as­so­ci­a­tion with Tiger Woods, is miss­ing the 14-time ma­jor cham­pion’s star power as he is out, un­der­go­ing treat­ment to help man­age his pain med­i­ca­tion af­ter he was ar­rested for DUI last month. Woods has won this event twice — first in 2009 and again in 2012 — but he will not tee it up this week af­ter un­der­go­ing back surgery in April. Pa­trick Reed, ranked 17th in the Of­fi­cial World Golf Rank­ing, noted that even though the golfers are com­pet­ing for ti­tles, play­ers on the PGA Tour are root­ing for Woods re­turn.

“We wish him all the best and we want him out here,” Reed said. “Ev­ery one of us, the play­ers, peo­ple run­ning golf tour­na­ments, spon­sors, ev­ery­one wants Tiger Woods out here. The more he can take care of him­self, then we’re go­ing to get the old Tiger back.”

ASSOCIATED PRESS

David Ling­merth tees off on the sixth hole dur­ing his 5-un­der 65 open­ing round lead at the Quicken Loans Na­tional in Po­tomac, Mary­land on Thurs­day.

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