ENZAI CITY, Japan — Brendan Steele finished with four consecutive birdies and shot a 6-under 64 on Thursday to take the first-round lead at the PGA Tour Zozo Championship.
“Everybody says dinner is better if you’re an 18-year-old bird,” Steele said. “But four in a row definitely feels great and feels good.”
It was a happy return to Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club, where Steele was runner-up behind winner Hideki Matsuyama in the same tournament a year ago.
“I love it here,” Steele said. “I loved the course last year – I’m really happy to be back.”
The Zozo Championship is the only PGA Tour event in Japan and has an $11 million purse. There are no Covid-19 population-limiting restrictions this year.
“It’s nice to be able to get out of the hotel a little bit and enjoy the culture a little bit more this year,” Steele said. “So I like it a ton.”
It was a big day for other Americans, too.
Adam Schenck shot a 65 on a rainy day on the outskirts of Tokyo. Sam Ryder, Matthew Nesmith and Keegan Bradley are back.
Three more Americans were in the back three: Rickie Fowler, Xander Schauffele and Maverick McNealy.
Last year’s defending champion Matsuyama, who won by five strokes a year ago, opened the event with a 71.