Poulter and Hubbard jump out to the lead at RBC Heritage

By Dave Shields

One guy you’ve probably never heard of, another is an old pro, and both of them are leading after the first round of the RBC Heritage at the Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head, S.C.

Mark Hubbard and Ian Poulter are your first-round leaders at 7-under. Hubbard is a 31-year-old journeyman who has yet to win on the PGA Tour. But he is having a pretty good year, finishing second at the Houston Open last fall and 11th at the Honda Classic over the winter. He’s 36th in the FedEx Cup point standings.

Poulter is well known to golf fans, having won 17 times worldwide. He’s won three times on the PGA Tour, the last one coming in 2018. He finished strong with birdies on 17 and 18.

“I’ve always loved coming here to play golf,” said Poulter, reported Golfweek. “It’s a fiddly, testy, tricky golf course.”

In the first round at least, play was dominated by lesser-known players. Michael Thompson, Dylan Frittelli, Bryce Garnett, Ryan Palmer, Webb Simpson, Sebastian Muniz, and Viktor Hovland are all one shot back at 6-under.

Matthew NeSmith, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Tony Finau, Erik Van Rooyen, Mackenzie Hughes, and Jordan Spieth are two shots back at 5-under.

Spieth had a great round with 8 birdies. If it wasn’t for a triple-bogey on 12, he might be in the lead.

“Today wasn't really a roller coaster,” Spieth said reported the PGA Tour. “That triple, again, it was a bogey at worst if it doesn't ricochet 25 yards out of bounds. So certainly, Sunday last week was, and that was my first time in that position in right around two years, being anywhere near within three strokes of the lead starting a Sunday. So I expect that to be not quite sharp yet. You start to feel more comfortable the more experiences you get.”

If you’re wondering where the rest of the big names are, Rickie Fowler, Bryson DeChambeau, and Brooks Koepka are all in the hunt at 4-under, along with last week’s winner Daniel Berger.

Defending champion CT Pan is at 3-under along with Dustin Johnson, Collin Morikawa, Kevin Kisner and several others.

Further down the leaderboard are Justin Rose and Matt Kuchar are at 1-under, while Jason Day and Jon Rahm are at Even par.

The most disappointing rounds were turned in by the two favorites, Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas, who are 1-over. Thomas had a wild round with 4 bogeys and 3 birdies. Look for big rounds out of these two tomorrow if they want to make the cut. Same with FedEx Cup points leader Sungjae Im, who is 2-over.

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Dave Shields

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