Riley and Gordon are one step ahead of a group of seven players on five under at the Jackson Country Club; Live coverage of the Sanderson Farms Championship continues Friday from 1.30pm via the Red Button, with coverage from 8.30pm on Sky Sports Golf.
By Amar Mehta
Last Updated: 09/30/22 07:01
Gary Woodland’s wayward tee shot bounced into a spectator’s cup holder at the Sanderson Farms Championship for a different kind of hole-in-one.
Davis Riley and Will Gordon shot 66s in the first round to sit one shot from the field at the Sanderson Farms Championship in Mississippi.
Riley, who grew up near the host Jackson Country Club course, is coming off a strong rookie season after narrowly missing out on the Tour championship.
He got off to a strong start Thursday, keeping the bogeys off his card to end the day first with a six-under round.
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The 25-year-old saved par with an eight-footer on the first hole and added a pair of 12-foot birdie putts on the front nine.
Riley is joined at the top of the standings by Gordon, who netted a mixed front nine with four birdies at home, including a put from 20 feet on the par five 14th.
Behind them, seven players, including South Africa’s Christiaan Bezuidenhout and Belgium’s Thomas Detry, had five Under-67 cards.
Brandon Matthews, who married on Saturday, and two other recruits Trevor Cone and Kevin Yu were part of this group.
Defending champion Sam Burns started with a 70 a week after being part of the USA team that won the President Cup.
A year ago, The Sanderson Farms was off to a good start. He went on to earn two more victories, in the Valspar Championship play-offs and at Colonial.
Gordon said: “I rode it well. You have to do it here. There’s no secret about it. I rode it well from the start.
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“I looked good on the first hole and missed it. I did a sloppy bogey on the fourth and was kind of even just hanging there. I felt like my game was really good. I kept getting into the fairway and gave myself some good birdie opportunities.”
Riley admitted he didn’t “have the best day with my driver”.
“When I hit the fairway, I felt like I gave myself a really good opportunity to get some great approaches in there. Hit some really nice ones on the par threes,” said he declared.
“I landed a birdie or two on the par three, which is always nice. Pretty stress-free. When I was out of position, I would either give myself a fairly straightforward two-putt from 40 feet or a permission simple enough to get up and in. Fairly stress-free day, and hopefully I can continue more like this.”
Leading the British contingent is Russell Knox, who sits 10th after a four-under 68, one stroke ahead of Martin Laird.
Watch the Sanderson Farms Championship all week long live on Sky Sports. Live coverage continues Friday from 1.30pm via the Red Button, before full coverage from 8.30pm on Sky Sports Golf.