Australian Lucas Herbert leads the Fortnite Championship in Napa, California after taking six straight birdies in the first round. Watch Day 2 live on Sky Sports Golf from 11pm
Last updated: 09/15/23 at 8:37 AM
Excerpts from the first round of the Fortnite tournament from Silverado Resort, California.
Lucas Herbert birdied six straight birdies to convert to a nine-under 63 and build a two-point lead after one round of the Fortinet Championship on Thursday in Napa, California.
The Australian played the back nine on Silverado Resort’s North Course in seven under 30s to set the pace. South Korea’s SH Kim (65) had an eagle, five birdies and no bogeys to finish second.
Former major champion Jason Dufner was part of a tie for third at 66 with Kelly Craft, Zac Blair, Mark Hubbard, England’s Harry Hall and South Korea’s Sung Kang.
The Fortinet Championship is the first of seven events in the newly designed “FedEx Cup Fall” series.
Players need to finish in the top 125 in the point standings to retain full eligibility for the 2024 season.
The top 50 players from this summer’s FedEx Cup qualifiers have already been locked in.
Herbert played the front nine to two under before birdieing the par-4 10th hole, draining a putt of about 25 feet. His two-putt birdie on the 12th of the fifth launched a string of six in a row. He held his approach to the 13th to 2 1/2 feet, and rolled in his final birdie of the day at the 13th from 16 feet.
Herbert is playing his first tournament since the Open in July.
Part of that has to do with where he was mentally this summer, he said.
“Golf has really frustrated me this year,” Herbert said.
“It was a tough period as I had a lot going on in my life and on the golf course as well.
“I missed qualifying at The Open, and I didn’t really want to think about or talk about golf for about a good month there, I just needed to get away from the game and refresh everything.”
Kim holed out for eagle on the 14th from 106 yards. His wedge shot landed across the hole and then spun back several feet to fall into the cup.
Dufner recovered from the opening bogey and had eight birdies to knock down, four on nine, while making just one bogey the rest of the way.
He entered the week at a distant No. 171 in the FedEx Cup Fall standings.
“I’ve worked hard, very focused and determined on where I want to go with my game, but I haven’t had the best results over the last couple of years, so you wonder is this going to work or is this going to work? It’s going to be something that falls through.
“But today was nice. The weather was perfect, so that helps a little bit, and it was nice to get out there and make some birdies and get off to a good start.”
Justin Thomas opened the tournament with a three-under 69. Not only is Thomas preparing for the Ryder Cup later this month near Rome, but he’s also competing for FedEx Cup Fall points.
He’s not in danger of losing his Tour card, as he’s exempt through 2027 after winning the 2022 PGA Championship, but he needs to finish the fall series in the top 60 in points in order to qualify for two marquee winter events: the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and the Genesis Invitational.
Thomas carded four birdies and one bogey on Thursday.
“I enjoyed it and I was very engaged and focused on what I was doing, and I wasn’t doing it quite as well as I wanted to,” Thomas said.
Right behind Thomas was Max Homa, the two-time defending champion and the only other player in the field who would go on to play in the Ryder Cup. Homa overcame an early double bogey to score a two-under 70.
Watch Day 2 live on Sky Sports Golf from 11pm