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'Only good shot I hit all day': OU's Brian Stuard starts with holeout for eagle, settles for 68

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Detroit — The crowds would've gone crazy, if there were any crowds.

Michigan's PGA Tour mainstay, Brian Stuard, began the Rocket Mortgage Classic with a bang Thursday afternoon, holing out from 164 yards for an eagle-2 at the par-4 10th hole.

Yes, Stuard, the Jackson native and Oakland alum, was 2 under through one hole. Please raise your hand if you can say that. Liar.

Oakland University alum Brian Stuard shot an eagle on his first hole Thursday at the Rocket Mortgage Classic.

"You know, the pin was over a little ridge and we couldn't quite tell where it ended up," Stuard said. "We didn't even know it went in until we were up close and there was no ball, so we figured it had to be in."

Stuard finished with a 4-under 68, solid, especially considering it was among the best rounds in the afternoon wave Thursday, when the greens were bumpier. He was three shots off the first-round lead.

Not that he was overly satisfied.

In fact, he called the hole-out "the only good shot I hit all day."

"I drove it well, but I didn't particularly hit my irons very good. I putted OK," Stuard said. "I felt like I hit some good putts, especially on the second nine. There were probably at least four that kind of hit the hole, and didn't go in. It was just kind of one of those days. It could've been a few better. It just kind of scratchy."

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Stuard, 37, teed off at noon at Detroit Golf Club, and slipped on his opening tee shot, pulling it left, where it clipped a tree and dropped down into the rough, just behind a bunker.

No worries. The lie was pretty good, and Stuard simply jarred it with an 8 iron, one of two holeouts on a par 4 in the opening round. (Hank Lebioda made an eagle-2 at the par-4 sixth.)

Stuard said he can't ever remember starting a round like that, nor can he remember his last holeout from a significant distance. In other words, it's been a while.

Stuard got it to 3 under at the 16th hole, making a 24-foot putt, then 4 under on the 17th, with a nice approach to less than 6 feet. He ran into issues at the tough par-4 18th, hitting his approach long left, which is not the place to be, especially when the pin is cut on the back. He could only chop it out to 50 feet or so, making a bogey. He bounced back with birdie on the first hole, his 10th, before parring in from there.

Not the ideal finish, after the perfect start.

"You're just trying to get as many as you can," Stuard said. "Days like this, everybody's making birdies."

Stuard finished tied for fifth here last year, in the inaugural event.

He played in front of hundreds of family and friends — by the end of the week, he had made a lot more friends — reveling in the cheers and shouts of, "Wear the Bear!"

Stuard is looking for his second PGA Tour victory. He won the Zurich Classic in New Orleans in 2016.

tpaul@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tonypaul1984