CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Webb Simpson was nervous playing in the same group with Tiger Woods. It sure didn’t show Thursday in the Wells Fargo Championship.
Simpson chipped in from 35 yards in front of the par-4 eighth green for eagle, and then made Woods shake his head and smile when he holed a 60-foot birdie putt that might have rolled off the 12th green if the cup didn’t get in the way. It led to a 7-under 65 for a share of the lead with Stewart Cink and Ryan Moore.
“I was nervous playing with Tiger. I prayed a lot out there,” said Simpson, who lives about a mile away from Quail Hollow and already was on edge about trying to perform well for the neighbors. “Once I made a couple birdies, I kind of enjoyed it.”
There was a lot to like for just about everyone on a steamy day. With temperatures pushing 90 and barely a breeze, scoring conditions were so ideal that even par was over the cut line going into the second round. The average score was 71.72, the lowest for the first round in the 10-year history of the tournament.
Woods failed to take advantage. In his first tournament since a tie for 40th at the Masters he made too many mistakes early and had to one-putt three of the last four greens for a 71.
Rickie Fowler, still searching for his first PGA Tour win in his third full season, led a group of five players at 66 that included Patrick Reed, the 21-year-old from Augusta State who has Monday qualified to get in the last two tournaments.
Phil Mickelson recovered from a tee shot that went out-of-bounds and led to triple bogey and shot 71. Rory McIlroy, who earned his first PGA Tour win at Quail Hollow two years ago by closing with a 62, had a 70.
SPANISH OPEN: Former PGA Championship winner Shaun Micheel shot a 5-under 67 to take a one-stroke lead after the first round of the 100th Spanish Open in Seville.
The American is competing on the European Tour under a 10-year exemption from the 2003 PGA Championship, his last victory. Spain’s Jorge Capillo and Englishmen Robert Rock and Danny Willett shot 68.