USA TODAY US Edition

Sebastian Munoz shoots 60 for a second time in 2021-22

- Tim Schmitt

McKINNEY, Texas – Much of the talk around the AT&T Byron Nelson focused on the local golf triumvirat­e of Jordan Spieth, Scottie Scheffler and Will Zalatoris, three players who honed their respective games in the North Texas region and represent a new guard of Lone Star State golf.

But none of the aforementi­oned players currently own the course record at TPC Craig Ranch, the site of this week’s PGA Tour event. And none of the aforementi­oned players have ever shot multiple rounds of 60 or lower in the same season.

To be fair, nobody had accomplish­ed the latter until Thursday, when Sebastian Munoz reminded the golf world that the Dallas-Fort Worth golf scene is about more than just Spieth, Scheffler and Willy Z.

Using a pair of eagles and a supremely hot putter, Munoz – who played collegiate­ly at the nearby University of North Texas and currently lives in the DFW area – fired his second 60 of the season on his way to grabbing a sizable clubhouse lead in Thursday’s first round.

As he stood in the 18th fairway, preparing to take a crack at his third eagle of the day on the lengthy par-5 hole, Munoz had just one thing on his mind.

“Fifty-nine,” he said. “I wanted to give me a chance. I had I think it was 250 to the pin into the wind. I kind of wanted to hit like a bullet, like a little draw. I knew if I wanted to hit it close it had to be a fading, soft-landed shot; I tried to do that. I overdid it and ended up with a 60, which is really good around here.”

Good indeed. Good enough to eclipse Sam Burns’ 62, which marked the best tournament round since the event moved to Craig Ranch from Trinity Forest Golf Club last year. And the best the course has ever seen, as well, edging out a 61 once shot at the Tom Weiskopf-designed course by Ryan Palmer. Although Munoz pushed his second shot well right of the green on 18, he chipped to just inside a dozen feet and then buried the putt, a common theme throughout the day. That gave him a white-hot 28 on the back nine, and his 60 equaled the number he posted in the opening round of the RSM Classic in November.

Something clearly has clicked with Munoz since the calendar turned to 2022. He started this season (which begins in September) by missing three straight cuts and five of eight. He’s been a top-40 finisher in his last seven events.

He said Thursday that a new partnershi­p with caddie Jose Campra has helped to solidify his game. “I feel like ever since he got on the bag, we’ve had good vibes,” Munoz said of Campos. “We understand each other. We kind of speak a language that we can both see our shots and our distances.

“So I felt like that has really helped. Besides that, just a little more consistent. Trying to avoid the big mood swings. I feel like that’s huge. And we’ll see how it goes.”

It went pretty well in the opening round, but that’s nothing new for Munoz, who also finished with a 66 in the first round here last year, using eagles on holes 9 and 12 to write a similar script. He dropped back in the pack on the weekend with rounds of 73 and 71.

“It’s a great feeling whenever everything is clicking,” Munoz said. “You’re hitting the tee shots, the ball is coming out in the window that you imagined … the putts, that you’re reading good the putts. The speed.

“When everything is going, it’s just stay out of the way and just kind of let it happen.”

At the end of the day, Munoz held a four-stroke lead over Mito Pereira, Peter Malnati, defending champion K.H. Lee and Justin Lower, who all shot 64s.

So how would the Colombian native relax, knowing he’d have a healthy lead?

By playing video games. “Apex Legends.” Maybe “Call of Duty.”

And do video games come as easily as golf seems to come lately?

“I’m almost a 30-year-old guy trying to play video games,” he said with a smile. “The kids today are really good.”

 ?? RAYMOND CARLIN III/USA TODAY SPORTS ?? Sebastian Munoz plays a shot on the 10th hole during the first round of the AT&T Byron Nelson. He shot 60 Thursday.
RAYMOND CARLIN III/USA TODAY SPORTS Sebastian Munoz plays a shot on the 10th hole during the first round of the AT&T Byron Nelson. He shot 60 Thursday.

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