GREENSBORO Nearly everyone, it seemed, was talking about the greens Thursday at Sedgefield Country Club in the opening round of the Wyndham Championship.
Phenomenal, fantastic, said Chris Stroud, whose 6-under-par 64 gave him a share of the lead with Ross Fisher of England.
Extremely firm and fast, said Robert Garrigus, who had a 65.
They're slick and they're pure, added Jordan Spieth, another 65 shooter.
So it went on the first day of what could be dubbed the Last Call Open, where so many in the field are trying to accumulate FedEx Cup points, either to qualify for the upcoming FedEx playoffs or to improve their position.
Stroud is one of those looking to move up. The former Lamar University golfer is 48th in FedEx points and safely in the playoffs, having won almost $1.5 million this year.
Garrigus is coming off a strong showing in the PGA Championship, where he was in contention after 36 holes. Spieth won the John Deere Classic in July, has since turned 20 and has become one of the PGA Tour's best stories as a rookie.
On a sunny but unseasonably cool day, birdies were plentiful at Sedgefield. So were three-putts.
Defending champion Sergio Garcia had a bogey-free, generally stress-free 65, saying he hit the ball pretty nicely. Also at 5-under were former Masters champion Trevor Immelman, Matt Jones of Australia, former Oklahoma State golfer Morgan Hoffman, Patrick Reed, and Andrew Svoboda, who won on the Web.com Tour last week.
Needing to make up some ground will be Webb Simpson, the Wyndham winner in 2011. The Raleigh native, who now lives in Charlotte, bogeyed the last hole for a 71.
Fisher, 162nd in points, was in the day's final tee time. Beginning his round at the 10th hole, he eagled the par-5 fifth hole the 14th of his round and birdied the par-3 seventh to match Stroud's 64 and post his best score of the year.
Stroud could have bypassed the Wyndham this year and headed to New Jersey next week for The Barclays, the first of the four FedEx Cup events. In seven previous Greensboro appearances, he had missed the cut five times and finished no better than 57th.
But in 2004, fresh out of college, Stroud was given an exemption into the Greensboro tournament, then called the Chrysler Classic and played at Forest Oaks Country Club. He made the cut and $10,350 in his first career PGA Tour start.
Even sweeter would be making the Wyndham his first PGA Tour victory. Stroud has come close, losing a playoff to Ken Duke at the Travelers Championship in June, but has not won.
But there are 54 holes still to be played, and on a course that may be lacking in length but armed with greens that Stroud said roll like pool tables.
Sedgefield's old bent-grass greens so tough to maintain in hot, muggy summer weather ave been replaced by Champion Bermuda grass. The conversion was made before the 2012 tournament, but another year of growth has made for smoother, faster surfaces on the venerable Donald Ross course.
These are major speed, Garrigus said.
That is, green speeds similar to those in the major championships. Garrigus, who birdied three of his last four holes, and others said downhill speeds on some putts were 15 or 16 on the Stimpmeter the sloped device used to measure the rollout on putts.
Chesson Hadley of Raleigh, who had an opening 72, said he had to be defensive both in attacking the pins, then on putts of nearly every length.
Downhill, you can't even think about making it, said Hadley, who won the Rex Hospital Open on the Web.com Tour last month in Raleigh.
Stroud made a lot of putts. Hitting five of 14 fairways and 11 of 18 greens in regulation, he needed just 23 putts in a round that had eight birdies and two bogeys.
"I probably made 150 feet of putts," he said, smiling. "I hung in there. I kept it in play."
Stroud failed to make the cut last week at the PGA after rounds of 71 and 73 at Oak Hill, but came away from the year's last major believing he was playing well.
Golf's funny, he said. I didn't play that great (Thursday). I'm in the lead. It's a weird deal. It's a crazy game.
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