Malnati seizes PGA Bermuda lead by shooting sizzling 63

Published October 30, 2020, 9:36 AM

by Agence-France-Presse

Peter Malnati of the United States plays his shot from the tenth tee during the first round of the Bermuda Championship at Port Royal Golf Course on October 29, 2020 in Southampton, Bermuda. Gregory Shamus/Getty Images/AFP

Peter Malnati, chasing his first title in nearly five years, reeled off five consecutive birdies and grabbed a one-stroke lead after Thursday’s opening round of the US PGA Bermuda Championship.

The 33-year-old American fired an eight-under-par 63 at Port Royal Golf Course in Southampton for a one-stroke edge over compatriots Doug Ghim and Ryan Armour.

“It feels great to be playing this well,” Malnati said. “Right now, you could put me anywhere and I feel like the course would suit me.”

Malnati, ranked 166th, won his only PGA crown at the 2015 Sanderson Farms Championship, but is coming off two of his best tour finishes earlier this month, second at the Sanderson Farms and sharing fifth at Las Vegas.

“I’ve had stretches where I feel good but they have kind of been few and far between. this one feels a little different,” Malnati said, calling his month “fantastic” and adding, “It didn’t feel exceptional. It felt like what I’ve worked so long to be able to do.”

Malnati birdied the par-3 third and par-4 fourth, added another at six and began his five-birdie run at the par-4 ninth. His lone bogey came on the par-5 17th but a closing birdie was enough to leave him atop the leaderboard.

“I feel comfortable on the greens,” he said. “You can hit a lot of wedges here if you put it in the fairway. And one of my strengths has been my wedge game.”

Ghim, seeking his first PGA title,  and Armour, whose only PGA crown came at the 2017 Sanderson Farms event, each fired bogey-free rounds.

Doc Redman holed out for an eagle from 94 yards at the par-4 15th hole on his way to a 65 to join fellow Americans Chase Seiffert and Vaughn Taylor in a fourth-place pack.

Three-time major winner Padraig Harrington, who hadn’t made a US PGA start since March, fired a 67. It was the 49-year-old Irishman’s lowest PGA round since May of last year.

Harrington admits the start of a 50-and-over Champions Tour career next September is on his mind, saying, “Possibly even before the PGA Tour scores, I look at the Champions Tour scores. I don’t know what that tells you.”