Pádraig Harrington produced a stunning finish as Brooks Koepka fired an ominous warning shot ahead of next week's US PGA when he opened with a six-under 65 in the AT&T Byron Nelson Championship in Dallas.
The big Floridian will be going for his fourth win in seven major starts when he defends the Wanamaker Trophy at Bethpage, and while he’s tied for fourth behind leader Denny McCarthy, he's looking to head to New York with a spring in his step.
"The last few weeks I've been even impressed with myself and how well I'm striking it," said Koepka, who has seen signs of improvement in his putting.
"I think it's important to kind feel like the hole is opening up with a Major coming."
McCarthy recovered from a double-bogey at the fourth with 10 birdies in a blistering 12 hole stretch to post an eight-under 63 and lead by one from Tom Hoge and Tyler Duncan as Harrington finished eagle-birdie-birdie for a 69. Scores
As Seamus Power bogeyed his final two holes for a one-over 72 that leaves him tied for 113th, Harrington used his putter just 11 times on the green on his back nine and followed an outward 38 with a stunning homeward 31 to share 55th on two-under.
Playing just his 13th round this year in the worst of the afternoon winds having missed the early part of the season due to a wrist injury, he started on the back nine and ran up a double bogey six at the 11th after a drive into jungle left forced him to play three off the tee.
He dropped another shot at the par-three 17th but showed his resilience on the 18th, bizarrely getting volunteers to hold up TV cables that were in his line after he’d overshot the 18th green so he could putt his third.
His putt ran 12 feet past the hole but he made the swinging return putt for par and after a trademark 54-yard pitch set up a birdie at the first, he putted well on the way home before holing from off the green for an eagle three at the seventh to get back to level par.
He then made a 24 footer at the 139 yard eighth before making one of just 17 birdies at the 505-yard, par-four ninth, hitting his approach 258 yards to just seven feet.
Power was two-under after five holes but three putted the sixth from over 100 feet and then dropped a shot at the 10th after being forced to take a penalty drop after a pushed tee shot.
He got back into the red with a two-putt birdie four at the 14th but couldn’t get up and down for pars after missing the 17th and 18th greens.
Jordan leads at Hillside
On the European Tour, Reds fan Matthew Jordan blasted a course record, nine-under 63 to lead the Betfred British Masters and admitted that Liverpool's stunning Champions League comeback helped ease the pressure.
The former amateur star from Hoylake (23) took full advantage of a late invitation and fired nine birdies in a bogey-free round.
"I just watched it, and again, that takes your mind off it, really," the former Walker Cup star said. "Everyone is talking about the game instead of the golf."
He is two shots clear of fellow Englishman Matt Wallace and Sweden's Marcus Kinhult with Michael Hoey tied for 10th with the likes Lee Westwood and tournament host Tommy Fleetwood after a 68. Scores
Paul Dunne is tied 43rd after a 71 but Gavin Moynihan is struggling to make the cut after a 75.
Dawson’s fast start
On the Challenge Tour, Robin Dawson and Cormac Sharvin shot three-under 69's to share 18th in the Prague Golf Challenge.
Dawson raced out of the blocks with five straight birdies and was six-under through 11 holes before a windblown finish cost him three shots.
"It was disappointing to drop a few coming in, but it was tricky," Dawson said. "Anytime you break 70, it's a good score."
Dawson and Sharvin are just four shots behind leaders Wil Besseling, Jonas Kolbing, Richard Bland, Billy Spooner and Ewen Ferguson with Derry's Ruaidhri McGee five behind in joint 30th after a 70. Scores
Leona six back in Atlanta
Leona Maguire is just six shots off the lead despite opening with a two-over 74 in the Symetra Tour’s weather-delayed IOA Invitational at Atlanta National Golf Club in Georgia.
The Slieve Russell talent, ranked second on the money list in race for 10 LPGA Tour cards, made four bogeys and a birdie in her first six holes before following birdies at the ninth and 16th with a bogey at the 17th. Scores
Her two-over 74 left her was tied for 62nd, six behind Thailand’s Nontaya Srisawang, whose 68 gave her a one-stroke lead over American Lindsey McCurdy