SAN MARTIN, Calif. (AP) — Coming off his worst year, Jeff Overton opened the new PGA Tour season on a good note.
Once he finally made a putt Thursday in the Frys.com Open, Overton felt as if he couldn't miss. Over the last 11 holes at CordeValle, he made three birdie putts over 25 feet and a 20-foot eagle putt when his gamble paid off on the par-5 ninth.
He finished with a tap-in birdie on the 18th for a 7-under 64 and a one-shot lead over Brian Harman.
"It really helps if you can get off to a good start," Overton said. "It would be great if we can continue this thing and keep it rolling."
Harman finished with back-to-back birdies from short range and had eight birdies on his round. Kyle Stanley had a 66.
The group at 4-under 67 included Michael Putnam, who won the Web.com Tour money title last season to earn full status, and Brooks Koepka, the most traveled player at the Frys.com Open. This is the fourth tour Koepka has played this year. He earned his European Tour card by winning three times on the Challenge Tour. He also played a Web.com Tour event, and the Florida State alum is headed to China in two weeks for the BMW Masters.
Ryo Ishikawa, who had to earn his card back at the Web.com Tour Finals, opened with a 69. Hideki Matsuyama, one of three players at the Presidents Cup last week, had a 70.
The PGA Tour season is starting in October instead of January for the first time in history. The official season ends next September at the Tour Championship, although there will be a six-week break leading to the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii.
Officially, it was the start of the 2013-14 season Thursday. It was different from previous "season openers" in Kapalua.
The temperature was struggling to climb past 50 degrees when Bryce Molder, wearing rain pants to cope with the morning chill, hit the first shot of the year. He yanked it left and nearly couldn't find it, which would have meant going back to the tee to his third short.
The fairways weren't 80 yards wide. And it wasn't a tropical 80 degrees.
Jhonattan Vegas felt even worse.
He was on the putting green, in the third group, when he had to use the bathroom. He thought he had plenty of time. He was wrong. Vegas was a few seconds later to the tee box, meaning a two-shot penalty. His first swing of the new season technically was for birdie from 412 yards away. He made par, plus two shots for a double bogey.
"I was just caught off guard," he said. "It never crossed my mind I would be late to the tee. I made a mistake and I paid the price. It's not an easy way to start the year"