Sweden’s Henrik Norlander birdied the final hole for a 7-under 64 and a 1-stroke lead in the Web.com Tour Finals-opening Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship in Columbus.
Robert Streb had a 65 on Ohio State University’s Scarlett Course, and five-time PGA Tour winner Ben Crane was another stroke back with Kramer Hickok and Denny McCarthy.
The 31-year-old Norlander played the back nine in 5-under 30, rebounding from a bogey on the par-3 17th with the birdie on the par-4 18th.
The four-event series features the top 75 players — Norlander was 32nd — from the Web.com regular-season money list, Nos. 126-200 — Crane was 148th, McCarthy 149th, and Streb 178th — in the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup standings and nonmembers with enough money to have placed in the top 200 in the FedEx Cup had they been eligible.
The top-25 finishers on the Web.com regular-season money list — Hickok was 23rd — have earned PGA Tour cards.
They are competing against each other for tour priority, with regular-season earnings counting in their totals. The other players are fighting for 25 cards based on series earnings.
Ariya Jutanugarn birdied five of her last eight holes for an 8-under 64 and a share of the CP Women’s Open lead at rain-softened Wascana Country Club in Regina, Saskatchewan.
Nasa Hataoka and Mariajo Uribe joined the second-ranked Jutanugarn atop the leaderboard, with Canadian star Brooke Henderson and three-time champion Lydia Ko 2 strokes back.
With players allowed to lift, clean and place their golf balls in the fairways because of the damp conditions, Jutanugarn birdied the first four holes and finished with nine birdies and a bogey in the morning round in sunny, hot conditions.
The Thai star won the event two years ago in Calgary.
Ryder Cup hopefuls Thomas Pieters and Eddie Pepperell made strong starts at the Czech Masters on Thursday to boost their chances of qualifying for Europe’s team.
Belgium’s Pieters, the 2015 Czech Masters champion, started with two birdies at the Albatross Golf Resort near Prague and added six more in his opening round to finish with an 8-under 64 and a share of the lead.
He is tied with two-time major champion John Daly, Callum Tarren and Gavin Green.
Nacho Elvira, Andrea Pavan, Lee Slattery, Jeff Winther and Tapio Pulkkanen are 1 stroke back.
Golf roundup: 4-way tie for lead at Northern Trust as Woods stalls