RENO — Brendan Steele called it a “typical Stableford round.”
Steele birdied eight of his first 11 holes, then bogeyed four in a row at one stretch, and finished with a birdie en route to 13-point performance in the first round of the 18th annual Barracuda Championship at Montreux Golf & Country Club.
“Yeah, obviously got off to a great start,” said Steele after his nine-birdie performance. “I was really cooking along there and then decided to take a nap on the back side (he started on No. 10). Four bogeys in a row aren’t good in any format, but it is easier to take in this format. You can get them back a little bit.
“So kind of the classic Stableford round, if you will, because I think I only made four pars and ends up being a lot of points and probably in a better position than I would be in if it was stroke play.”
Steele, who started his round on No. 10, rolled in birdie puts of 7, 8, 8 and 1-feet, respectively, on his first five holes. After a bogey on the par-3 16th that dropped him to plus-7, he finished his front side with birdie putts of 17 and 9-feet to make the turn at plus-11.
The birdie barrage continued at Nos. 1 and 2 with birdie putts of 16 and 2 feet, putting him at plus-15. The four straight bogeys brought him down to plus-11. He finished on a positive note when he launched a 52-degree wedge shot to within 4 feet at No. 9 and dropped in the putt.
KUDOS TO COURSE: As always, the players touted the condition of the Montreux layout.
“Yeah, the course is perfect,” said Steele, who finished with a plus-13. “It’s always in good shape, but it’s never been better as far as I’m concerned. The greens are rolling great. The rough is actually up a little bit. If you get into the rough, you can get some tough lies, but overall it’s just great.”
“The golf course played great,” said Jeff Overton, who finished with 12 points. “It’s in as good a shape as I’ve ever seen it. It’s in as good of shape as anything we play all year.”
MR. SMITH IN RENO: Fallon’s Scott Smith had a rough start, finishing with a plus-2. Smith racked up birdies on Nos. 4, 8, 9, 16 and 17 that offset bogeys at Nos. 1 and 15.
What did him in were double bogeys at the par-4 12th and the par-4 14th.
HOLE REPORT: The toughest hole in the first round was the par-3 16th, which played to an average of 3.167. The easiest hole was the par-5 13th that played to a 4.568 average. The course played to a 71.742.
There were nine eagles, all on par-5s. One was on No. 8 and there were four each on Nos. 13 and 18. There were 266 birdies, 66 coming on No. 13. There were only 26 double-bogeys and two triple-bogeys.
PAST CHAMPIONS REPORT: Of the past champions in the field, 2013 winner Gary Woodland had the best day with a plus-13, while 2014 winner Geoff Ogilvy was at plus-8. Will MacKenzie was at 5 and Steve Flesch and John Rollins were at 1 each. Defending champ J.J. Henry had just one birdie all day and finished at minus-2.