HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. (AP) – Bud Cauley took advantage of pristine, windless conditions at Harbour Town Golf Links with birdies on four of final five holes for an 8-under 63 and a two-shot lead Thursday after the opening round of the RBC Heritage.
Cauley hadn’t made many waves at Harbour Town his first three visits with two missed cuts and only one round in the 60s. This time, though, with mild, 70-degree conditions, practically no wind and abundant sunshine, Cauley made eight birdies in a bogey-free round, including three straight to finish with a flourish.
The 63 was one shy of the 27-year-old Cauley’s career low (62 at the McGladney Classic in 2012) and two off the tournament mark of 61 shared by David Frost and Troy Merritt.
Cauley was two strokes in front of Luke Donald, Graham DeLaet and Sam Saunders, the grandson of the late Arnold Palmer. Russell Henley continued his recent run of top-flight golf with a 66 to join a group that included former U.S. Open winner Webb Simpson and Ian Poulter.
But it was Cauley’s strong finish that led the way. He rolled in a 5-footer for birdie on No. 16, an 8-footer for another on No. 17 and hit a near perfect approach to the usually wind-swept 18th green off Calibogue Sound to inside 12 feet for the two-stroke edge.
William McGirt had the best opening round of area players in the field with a -3/68. He’s part of a group of 17 golfers tied for 19th.
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