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Saturday 10 December 2016

McDowell joint top at Hilton Head

Published 17/04/2015 | 07:01

Graeme McDowell carded a first-round 66
Graeme McDowell carded a first-round 66

Matt Every and Graeme McDowell shared the lead after the first round of the RBC Heritage at Hilton Head, with Jordan Spieth eight shots off the pace as he came back to earth following his Masters win.

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In difficult conditions, with strong winds and a distinct chill in South Carolina, birdies were hard to come by but Every carded six before a bogey on the 18th, while McDowell matched him only in reverse after bogeying the first.

Given the way the course was playing, staying at the top of the leaderboard was as much about survival as anything.

"I was greasy today," Every said on the PGA Tour website. "It wasn't my best ball striking, it wasn't easy out there, but I got the best out of it.

"It was blowing. Back in the trees, when it's coming from the north and banking off the trees going the other way, it's dicey, but for the most part I did a good job."

Sangmoon Bae is alone in third place, one shot back, ahead of a five-way tie for fourth which includes Kevin Kisner, Scott Langley, Morgan Hoffman, Matt Kuchar and Cameron Smith.

Smith could have been much better placed but for a bogey on the third and a double bogey on the seventh, where his tee shot put him in the trees and he faced a long road back. He had earlier carded five birdies in six holes between the second and seventh holes.

Kuchar's round was highlighted by a 35ft putt for birdie on the par-five 15th, which was the only hole on which his playing partner Spieth enjoyed any luck.

Appearing tired after a whirlwind week of interviews and appearances which meant he did not have time for a practice round, Spieth three-putted the sixth to drop his first shot of the day and looked lethargic as he missed birdie opportunities on the ninth and 10th greens.

He dropped another shot on the 11th and on the par-three 14th he sent his tee shot straight into the water, setting up a double bogey that put him four over par.

He pulled one back with a birdie on the par-five 15th, but already appears set for a much-needed weekend off.

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