Viktor Hovland made an impressive start to the defence of the World Wide Technology Championship, as he chases a hat-trick of wins in the event.
Hat-tricks in golf are extremely rare, with Steve Stricker the latest player to win an event three years in succession when landing the John Deere Classic in 2011.
Hovland has had a tough time in 2022, fighting issues with his swing, but he said recently that he felt he had turned a corner - and there were positive signs on Thursday.
Hovland survives scare of finding water on final hole to defend Hero World Challenge
On an El Camaleon course he is extremely comfortable on, Hovland cruised round in 65 to get to six-under after 18 holes.
While it was an impressive round that included six birdies and an eagle, it could have been better as there were two bogeys on the card.
Hovland is sat on the same score as Scottie Scheffler who produced a bogey-free round of 65.
It is Scheffler’s first appearance since being deposed as world No. 1 by Rory McIlroy, and with a new putter in the bag he looked on good terms.
Iron and approach play are strengths of Scheffler’s game, and they were dialled in on Thursday.
Any player who does not shoot a score beginning with a six will be losing ground on the field in friendly conditions.

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At one point on Thursday there was the prospect of the leading score beginning with a five, as Will Gordon got to nine-under after 13 holes to prompt talk of a 59.
But he went cold over the final five holes, meaning Gordon signed for a 62 to miss out on the course record set by Matthew Wolff (2021) and Roland Thatcher 2008 (2008) by a single shot.

First Round Leaderboard

  • 1. Will Gordon, nine-under
  • 2. Russell Henley, eight-under
  • T3. Scott Piercy, seven-under
  • T3. Francesco Molinari, seven-under
  • T3. Harris English, seven-under
  • T3. Sam Ryder, seven-under
  • T7. David Lingmerth, six-under
  • T7. Martin Laird, six-under
  • T7. Scottie Scheffler, six-under
  • T7. Viktor Hovland, six-under
  • T7. Patton Kizzire, six-under
  • T7. Joseph Bramlett, six-under
  • T7. John Huh, six-under
  • T7. Maverick McNealy, six-under
  • T7. JJ Spaun, six-under
  • T7. Danny Willett, six-under
  • T7. Troy Merritt, six-under
  • T7. Taylor Montgomery, six-under
Gordon entered the clubhouse with a one-stroke lead over Russell Henley, while there was a welcome return to form for Francesco Molinari.
In what is a Ryder Cup season in his native Italy, Molinari showed flashes of the quality that made him a major champion in 2018.
He is chasing a first win since 2019, and started well in Mayakoba with a round of 64, one shot better than David Lingmerth of Sweden and Martin Laird of Scotland.
Last week’s winner at the Butterfield Bermuda Championship, Seamus Power began well with a round of 67.
The better scoring was produced by the early starters, but Danny Willett played his way into contention in the afternoon with a round of 65.
On his first start since the Presidents Cup, Tony Finau shook off a triple bogey on the second hole to sign for a three-under round of 68.
Justin Rose had an ugly six and seven on his card, but made six birdies to get under-par for the round - albeit he will need to go low on Friday to make the cut.
Matt Wallace finished one shot better than Rose after easing round in 68.
Hero World Challenge
Hovland takes control of Hero World Challenge, Scheffler in pursuit
03/12/2022 AT 23:43
Hovland leads Hero World Challenge despite concerns with state of his game
02/12/2022 AT 23:07