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Streb sets course record to lead opening round of CJ Cup

There was a little confusion earlier this week about exactly what was the course record at The Summit Club. Robert Streb put that discussion to rest on Thursday.

Streb had a career best 11-under 61 to set the opening-round pace at the CJ Cup, coming out at a sizzling pace not seen on the PGA Tour in 14 years.

Streb played the first six holes in 7 under, making five birdies and an eagle to begin the day, matching the lowest six holes to start a round since Brandt Snedeker pulled it off at Torrey Pines in 2007.

“Yeah, it was going really well,” he said, stating the obvious. “I hit a few close, and the putts were going in. I’ve never had a start like that, so it was kind of fun.”

Keith Mitchell nearly matched Streb in the afternoon with a 10-birdie, no-bogey 62, Harry Higgs added a late 64, and Hudson Swafford is among a trio four shots back after a 65 while playing in the same group with Streb, making them a combined 18 under.

“It was fun. It was really fun,” Swafford said of the morning. “Playing next to a 61, we had a lot of good positive vibes going today and saw a bunch of birdies.”

Mitchell had no complaints after the low round of his career. He pointed to his entire bag as the key.

“I hate to say everything, but everything clicked,” Mitchell said.

The wide fairways and large, receptive greens made for low scores throughout the round. Just nine players in the field finished over par as players quickly discovered this tournament is going to be a shootout.

Adam Scott, who birdied his final three holes during a 68, said nobody should be surprised by Streb’s round.

“The first seven holes is where you can make an unbelievable score, and he did that today,” Scott said. “I think someone’s going to do it every day this week.”

On this day, it was Streb. He had 11 birdies, one eagle and one bogey over the 7,431-yard layout. He needed just 22 putts, including just seven over his first six holes.

“I was trying to stay in the moment as best I can and, I don’t know, you just feel like you can start aiming at stuff,” he said. “Things seemed to be going my way.”

Streb knows he has a long way to go in his quest for a third PGA Tour title, and he’s trying not to get ahead of himself. Not on a course where low scores come from every direction.

“Obviously guys are going to shoot some low ones this week,” he said. “So I’ll just try to plug along and see where I am at the end of the week.”

Collin Morikawa, who most everyone has targeted as a favorite this week playing on his home course, opened with a 67. He said it felt different playing the course in competition instead of practice.

“I just have to pay attention a little more,” he said. “I have to be active and watching where to hit it, where to miss it. I just have to be a little more attentive to what’s around because out here there still are penalties, and if you get a little lazy and you hit a bad shot, it can cost you potentially the round with the momentum.”

Rory McIlroy found that out late, finishing with 68 after making triple bogey on 17 to derail a really good round.

“It’s one of those courses where if you just keep it in play, it’s obviously very scorable,” he said. “But you hit a couple just offline and you get a bad break or a little unlucky, you can make a big number, and I did that on 17.”

Greg Robertson covers golf for the Review-Journal. He can be reached at grobertson@reviewjournal.com.

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