Ridgeland, South Carolina – Wes Roach has gone where he’s never gone before.
The man who has bounced back and forth between the PGA Tour and the Korn Ferry Tour since 2012, and who is ranked number 433 in the world, grabbed the top spot after wrapping up the first round of the PGA Tour for the first time in his career.
With a 7-under-par 64—only one shot of his low tour career—Roach was far from the field after the first round of the Palmetto Championships on Thursday at Congaree. This is the first time he has secured the lead after any 88 Tour debut on the PGA Tour.
“It feels great,” Roach said of his career first drive. His best finish on the PGA Tour is a tie for third place at the 2019 Rocket Mortgage Classic. “Hard work pays off a bit. It’s only 18 holes and there are long ways to go, but I will do my best to stay present there and continue to get quality shots.
“I did everything really well. I drove really nice, did really well like I did a while ago and did it from 104 yards on the fourth hole, so that was a nice bonus as well.”
That 104 yards on the fourth came off the fairway on his third shot while making Eagle on a 633-yard par-5. This made it into the fourth through four holes. He went on to post 30 on top – his third in his career and first since 2014.
“I got off to a good start. I made a nice equalization, up and down the sand on 1. Then I made a pair of sparrows and then hid there on the 4. It was kind of a speed control,” he said. “I hit a lot of pretty good shots as I looked up so I thought at around 12 and 13 I got a bit of a hit, but I relied on my short game a little bit and was able to make a few jockeys.
“Then he made another bird come on the 16th. So it was a good day.”
Roach, 32, has missed half of his eight starts on the Tour this season and has scored a season-best draw of 13.The tenth at the Puerto Rican Open. But he has changed the speculator recently and leads the field in one-round mode.
“I’ve been hitting the ball really well for most of the year, and my racket hasn’t been very good, to be honest,” he said. “Things kind of mixed up a few weeks ago back home and everything is in a good place now.”
world number 1 Dustin Johnson was fired at 65. He is joined by Eric Van Roen, Chaison Hadley and Doc Redman. At 66 it was Jhonattan Vegas.
In the big group at 67 was the English Harris. Tommy Fleetwood and Ian Poulter were among those aged 68.
World No. 8 Brooks Koepka, who played for the first time since a tie for second in the PGA Championship, was the last to shoot 72. The last four times he failed to tie a tie in the first round of a PGA Tour event missed the cut.