Las Vegas — Nick Taylor had to scramble for par on his opening two holes Thursday, and then he couldn’t miss in the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.
Taylor ran off a six-hole stretch at 6-under par, including a drive on the 314-yard 14th hole at the TPC Summerlin that stopped 5 feet away for eagle. He birdied all the par 5s, kept bogeys off his card and opened with an 8-under 63 for a one-shot lead over Brian Harman.
Phil Mickelson, who missed the cut last week at the Safeway Open in his season debut, had a 65 for his lowest round since late February.
Taylor faced ideal conditions and the easier side at Summerlin to start his round, and he found himself having to get up-and-down to save par with 5-foot putts.
“The first two holes, I actually hit pretty good drives. Had a little bit of mud on it, so the ball just kind of took off oddly,” Taylor said. “Was able to make two good par saves, and from there was able to hit a bunch of greens, make some putts.”
The 15th hole was a bonus. On the three par 5s, he was either on in two shots or just off the green.
“That always makes the round pretty easy,” Taylor said.
Mickelson, Brian Gay, Sam Ryder, Brian Stuard (Oakland/Jackson) and Maverick McNealy were at 65.
Mickelson is playing Las Vegas for the first time since 2005, and he didn’t start his season well when he chopped up the par 5s at Silverado — making a 9 on one of the easier holes — to miss the cut.
Lefty wasn’t worried. Take out his play on the par 5s, and he felt his game was fine. He showed that Thursday, and finished his round with a 60-foot eagle attempt that had a chance to go in before leaving a short putt for his final birdie.
The 65 was his best score since a second-round 65 in the Mexico Championship.
With the fairways running tight and fast, Mickelson said he relied on a low cut to keep it in play and give himself chances.
“They’re not going very far, but they’re in play,” he said. “My iron play right now is really good, so I just want to give myself chances with my irons.”
He said he needed only a “subtle fix” from how he played the par 5s at the Safeway Open and it was easy.
Brooks Koepka, who had stem cell treatment on his left knee on Aug. 25 after the FedEx Cup ended, began his season by needing two birdies over the last four holes just to break par. The first No. 1 player in Las Vegas since Greg Norman in 1988, he opened with a 70.
Tony Finau was at 68 after spending the last two weeks on the European Tour and flying eight time zones away to Las Vegas.
Defending champion Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Cantlay, who won the previous year, each shot 66. Both are among the top 10 in the world ranking, giving Las Vegas its strongest field in more than 15 years.
Adam Scott, who spent a year at UNLV as a teenager, also shot 66.
Ryan Brehm (Michigan State/Midland) shot an even-par 71.
Stephanie Meadow had five straight birdies on the front nine and shot an 8-under 63 in hot and humid conditions to take the first-round lead in the LPGA Tour’s Volunteers of America Classic at The Colony, Texas.
Seeking her first tour victory, the 27-year-old former University of Alabama player from Northern Ireland began the birdie run on the par-5 second and capped it on the par-5 sixth in mid-90-degree heat at Old American Golf Club.
Meadow also birdied the par-5 13th, the par-4 15th and par-3 16th in the bogey-free afternoon round.
Dori Carter and Amy Olson were tied for second at 65. Winless on the tour, Carter birdied the first four holes on the back nine, then rebounded from a double bogey on the 15th with birdies on 16h and the par-4 17th late in the afternoon.
Kristian Krogh Johannessen shot a career-best 8-under 63 to match the course record and take a two-shot lead after the first round of the Spanish Open in Madrid.
Johannessen birdied four of his last six holes at the Club de Campo Villa de Madrid for the lowest opening round in the event’s history. The only bogey for the Norwegian came on the par-4 16th hole, right after he made an eagle on the par-4 15th.
Adri Arnaus was in second place after a 65 that included five birdies and an eagle.
Defending champion Joh Rahm was three shots back after a 66, in a tie for third place with five other players — including Rafa Cabrera Bello.
Sergio Garcia was six shots off the lead. Garcia had three birdies and a bogey in his round that left him tied for 30th.