Rose and Varner Lead Schwab Challenge as PGA Tour Returns

by Dave Shields

After a three-month hiatus, the PGA Tour is back, baby, as a stellar field teed up for the opening round of the Charles Schwab Challenge at the Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas.

Justin Rose and Harold Varner jumped out to the first-round lead Thursday, carding bogey-free rounds of 63. They are both 7-under.

"It's good to be back out there, Varner said in the post-round interview. “I have been playing a lot of golf lately and tried to keep it as normal as possible."

Justin Thomas, Jhonattan Vegas, Abraham Ancer, and Colin Morikawa are all one shot back at 6-under.

Fort Worth native and Colonial member Ryan Palmer had the honor of opening the tournament with the first tee shot on tour in three months. He finished 2-over.

At 8:46 am local time, the players all observed an 8:46 moment of salience in a show of support for racial and social injustice. The 8:46 tee time and moment of silence is significant as that is the length of time that Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on the neck of George Floyd, killing him. The moment of silence will be held at that time all week.

“It’s important to set the tone,” Brooks Koepka said, according to the PGA Tour. “I think it’s going to be special. … There needs to be change, and I want to be part of the solution.”

There were a few surprises on the course, most notably, 61-year-old Tom Lehman, who shot a 5-under 65 – just two shots behind the leaders. It was his best round on the tour since 2011.

“Do I feel like I'm capable of shooting a 65 out here at Colonial? Well, for certain I do,” Lehman said, reported the PGA Tour. “Did I expect to do it today? Well, I would be probably lying if I said I fully expected to play and shoot such a low score. But I did expect to play well.”

Bryson DeChambeau, Gary Woodland, Xander Schauffele and Jordan Spieth are among a large group of golfers who joined Lehman at 5-under.

Among other big names, Bubba Watson, Koepka, Rory McIlroy, and Jon Rahm are all lurking at 2-under, while Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, and Jason Day all carded a 1-under.

Sung Kang had the shot of the day, scoring a hole-in-one on the 162-yard par-3 13th hole. The roar of the crowd was missing as there were no fans allowed on the course, but it was spectacular, nonetheless.

Among the biggest disappointments in this return to golf were Dustin Johnson, who was 1-over, and Rickie Fowler, who finished 2-over. Defending champion Kevin Na and Webb Simpson each finished 2-over.

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Dave Shields

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