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Wes Roach holds his 1st lead on PGA Tour

Dustin Johnson at 2021 Palmetto Championship
World No. 1 Dustin Johnson returns to his native South Carolina to shoot 65 in the 1st round of the Palmetto Championship and stand 1 shot off the lead.

32-year-old Tennessean, who splits time on Korn Ferry and PGA tours, shoots 64 at Palmetto Championship to set early pace

In 10 years of professional golf, Wes Roach has won only once on a major tour: in 2015, on what was then known as the Web.com Tour.

Roach played like a seasoned pro Thursday in the first round of the PGA Tour’s inaugural Palmetto Championship in Ridgeland, S.C. He shot 7-under 64 at Congaree Golf Club for his first lead on the PGA Tour.

“It feels great,” Roach said. “Hard work paying off a little bit. It's just 18 holes, and there's a long ways to go, but I'm just going to do my best to stay present out there and just continue to hit quality shots.”

One of those quality shots occurred on the fourth hole, when Roach holed a wedge from 104 yards for an eagle-2. It capped a 4-under start through four holes. He made the turn in 6-under 30. His only misstep came at the par-4 13th, where his drive and second shot ended up in waste bunkers. It resulted in his lone bogey, against eight birdies.

Dustin Johnson, a South Carolina native who is ranked No. 1 in the world, opened with a bogey-free 65, despite no birdies on the three par 5s. He was tied for second with Americans Chesson Hadley and Doc Redman and South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen.

Brooks Koepka, who played his first round since a T-2 at the PGA Championship three weeks ago, shot 1-over 72.

Roach, who led the field in strokes gained putting at 4.775, said he changed putters recently, and “it’s working well.”

“It's nice to see the ball rolling where I'm looking, and going in the hole is a bonus.”

Roach, 32, a 2011 Duke graduate, holds what touring pros would consider an advanced degree in perseverance in golf. He played his way up from the Web.com Tour to the big leagues three times: in 2013, 2015 and 2018. In 88 career starts on the PGA Tour, his best finish was a T-3 at the 2019 Rocket Mortgage Classic. This season, he has split his time between the Korn Ferry and PGA tours. Roach has made four cuts in eight starts on the PGA Tour, with one top-20 result, a T-13 in the Puerto Rico Open.

Roach, a resident of Knoxville, Tenn., said he visited Congaree a couple of weeks ago with some friends, and the scouting report helped.

“It's a very unique place,” he said of the 2018 Tom Fazio-designed course. “I was fortunate enough to come down with a few people from Knoxville just before the course was shut down two weeks ago, and so it was nice to have an extra look.”

And now – for one day, at least – the view is from the top of the leaderboard.

(For scores, click here.)

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