Lower sets blistering pace for PGA lead

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Australian rookie Harrison Endycott has carded a rare all-pars round on his US PGA Tour debut as American Justin Lower set a cracking pace at the season-opening Fortinet Championship.

Lower fired a nine-under-par 63 at Silverado Resort and Spa's North Course to grab a two-shot first-round lead over defending champion Max Homa.

South Koreans SH Kim and Byeong Hun An are tied for third at 66.

Rickie Fowler, Greyson Sigg, Sahith Theegala, Scott Harrington, Brice Garnett, JJ Spaun, Canada's Nick Taylor, Argentina's Emiliano Grillo, Germany's Matti Schmid and South Korea's Sung Kang share fifth place at 5-under 67.

Robby Shelton was 5 under through 13 holes when play was suspended due to darkness.

About a quarter of the 155 players did not complete the first round.

Lower, in his second season, has never finished in the top five at a PGA Tour event. His best results were a tie for eighth in the Barbasol Championship and a tie for 10th in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

In a bogey-free round on Thursday, Lower started on the back nine and made four consecutive birdies from No.16 to No. 1. He alternated birdies and pars throughout the front nine.

"I'll take it," he said. "I birdied half the holes, so that's always a good start, I guess."

Lower only gained full playing status on the 2022-23 tour two weeks ago when the PGA suspended the most recent six players to jump to the Saudi-backed LIV Golf circuit. He was one of the six who took the vacated spots.

"I'm honestly just happy to be in the position I am having ... full status for once," he said. "I actually get to play events I wanted to play this fall. Last fall I only got three starts, so looking to get off to a better start this fall for sure."

Playing his maiden PGA Tour event after graduating from the Korn Ferry circuit, Endycott is the leading Australian level with the card after making 18 straight pars.

Tied for 86th in the 156-man field, the 26-year-old will likely need to find some birdies on Friday to make the halfway cut.

Still, it's doubtful that too many other debutants would ever have carded bogey-free first-up rounds on the PGA Tour.

And more celebrated countrymen Cam Davis and former world No.1 Jason Day have even more ground to make up after recording two-over 74s to be languishing in a share of 115th position.

Fellow Australian Cameron Percy also had a 74, with Aaron Baddeley opening with a 73 to be tied for 102nd.

with Reuters