CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Former Wake Forest star Webb Simpson recorded a 7-under 65 on Thursday to share the lead with Ryan Moore and Stewart Cink at the Wells Fargo Championship.
Simpson is making his fourth start at the event (MC-2009, MC-2010, T21-2011). His previous-best score at the Wells Fargo Championship was a second-round 67 in 2011.
Webb Simpson made a 62-foot, 7-inch birdie putt on No. 12 on Thursday, the longest putt made in his career (non-majors only/no statistical data for majors). On average, TOUR pros 3-putt on one in every four attempts (25%) from 62 feet and have just a two percent chance of one-putting.
Simpson, No. 32 in the FedExCup standings, has now gone 174 consecutive holes on TOUR without recording a 3-putt, the second longest active streak behind Ernie Els (187).
Simpson has not missed a cut since the 2011 PGA Championship.
Moore is making his sixth start at the Wells Fargo Championship, with made cuts in 2011 (T33) and 2007 (T75). Thursday's 7-under 65 is just his third round in the 60s at the event (opened with rounds of 69-69 in 2011).
Moore's 65 represents the first time in 11 starts this season that he has broken 70 in the first round. It is his third-best score of the season, behind a 61 at the Humana Challenge and 64 at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am (both during the second round).
Moore's lone TOUR win came in the Tar Heel state, winning the 2009 Wyndham Championship. He is tied for the lead with Webb Simpson, also a winner at the Wyndham Championship (2011).
Eleven of Moore's last 12 rounds have been at par-or-better, with a third-round 13-over 85 at the Shell Houston Open the exception.
Moore has made eight of 10 cuts this season, with both of his top-10 finishes coming in his last three starts (T4-Arnold Palmer Invitational, T8-Valero Texas Open). He is currently No. 71 in the FedExCup standings.
Moore has shared the first-round lead twice (finished runner-up at the 2008 HP Byron Nelson Championship).
Stewart Cink opened with a 7-under 65, his best round on TOUR since an opening-round 64 at the 2011 Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial (finished T16).
Cink's 65 equals his best score in 27 rounds at Quail Hollow Club. He has now posted the score in the first round (2012), second round (2011) and third round (2008).
Until Thursday, Cink had never broken 70 in the first round at the Wells Fargo Championship (eight previous starts).
Cink's last top-10 finish in a PGA TOUR event came at the 2011 Wells Fargo Championship (T9).
In his last five starts at the Wells Fargo Championship, Cink has either missed the cut (2009, 2010) or finished in the top 10 (T5-2007, T8-2008, T9-2011).
Cink has now held/shared the first-round lead eight times on the PGA TOUR, with his only win in those events coming at the 2004 World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational. Most recently, he shared the first-round lead at the 2011 Valero Texas Open before rounds of 78-75-74 led to a T59 finish.
Bill Haas (2011) and Kirk Triplett (2004) own the lowest opening-round scores at Quail Hollow (64).
Prior to Thursday, the last time the Wells Fargo Championship had first-round co-leaders was 2006 (Jim Furyk, Bill Haas, Trevor Immelman, Rory Sabbatini).
The only first-round leader of this event who held on for the win was Jim Furyk in 2003.
The first-round leader has gone on to win just once in 18 stroke-play starts this season (George McNeill at the Puerto Rico Open.
Fowler is making his third start at the Wells Fargo Championship (6th-2010, T16-2011). Prior to Thursday's bogey-free 6-under 66, his previous best round at the event was a closing 5-under 67 in 2010.
Fowler is coming off of his second top-10 finish of the year, a T10 at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. He enjoyed his best finish of the year at The Honda Classic (T7).
John Senden has never missed a Wells Fargo Championship, making his 10th start at the event. Friday's 6-under 66 is his second-best score in 33 rounds at the event (second-round 64 in 2011). He has missed the cut just twice (2005, 2010), with a T10 in 2007 his best outing.
Patrick Reed's 6-under 66 equals his career-low round in six career PGA TOUR starts (first-round 4-under 66 at the 2011 Wyndham Championship).
After playing one year at the University of Georgia, Patrick Reed transferred to Augusta State University in his hometown of Augusta, GA, eventually leading the Jaguars to two consecutive NCAA Division I National Championships (2010, 2011). The most recent championship was set up by Reed's thrilling victory over reigning U.S. Amateur champion Peter Uihlein (on the nation's top-ranked amateur's home course) during the second round of match play and then over his former team in the championship match.
Reed is playing for the third straight week on the PGA TOUR, finishing T35 at the Valero Texas Open after receiving a sponsor's invitation, and then earning a spot in the field as a Monday Qualifier at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans (finished T24) and this week's Wells Fargo Championship.
Defending champion Lucas Glover opened with an even-par 72 in his bid to become the first multiple winner of the Wells Fargo Championship.
Glover is making his ninth start at Quail Hollow this week, a venue where he has enjoyed considerable success over the years. He has missed just one cut in his previous eight starts (2005) and has four top-10 finishes, highlighted by a win in 2011 and runner-up finish in 2009.
Glover is hoping to avoid joining David Toms (2004), Jim Furyk (2007), Sean O'Hair (2010) and Rory McIlroy (2011) as defending champions who missed the cut the year after winning the event.
Phil Mickelson made his ninth start at the Wells Fargo Championship this week, opening with a 1-under 71. He has finished outside of the top 12 just once at the event (T35 in 2006). Mickelson owns six top 10s at Quail Hollow Club (2004-T5, 2005-T7, 2007-T3, 2009-T4, 2010-2, 2011-T9).
Mickelson has played No. 17 at Quail Hollow Club 33 times (counting today's par-3) and is 14-over-par on the hole. He has only birdied the hole two times (R4/2007 and R2/2010).
Tiger Woods owns three top-10 finishes in five previous starts at the Wells Fargo Championship, including a victory in 2007 when he defeated runner-up Steve Stricker by two strokes. On Thursday, he carded a 1-under 71 in his first start at the event since missing the cut with rounds of 74-79 in 2010.
Woods has played No. 17 at Quail Hollow Club 19 times (counting today's par-3) and is 6-over-par on the hole, with just one birdie (R4/2004). In 2007 when Woods won the event, he bogeyed No. 17 on Saturday and Sunday.
Roberto Castro was the only player in the field with two eagles on Thursday (Nos. 3, 15). On the par-4 third hole, he holed a 3-iron from 199 yards.
Hunter Mahan hit all 18 greens in regulation en route to a 1-over 73.
Eight of the nine former Wells Fargo Championship champions are in the field: Vijay Singh (68), Rory McIlroy (70), Jim Furyk (71), Lucas Glover (72), Sean O'Hair (72), Anthony Kim (74) and David Toms (74).
Charlotte residents in the field: Webb Simpson (65), Brendon De Jonge (67), Robert Karlsson (71), Johnson Wagner (71), Martin Laird (72), Mathew Goggin (75) and Bryan Bigley (80).
R1 - Stewart Cink (65), Rickie Fowler (66), D.A. Points (66), Patrick Reed (66), Billy Mayfair (67), Vijay Singh (68),
Front Back Total Cumulative
First round 35.832 35.890 71.723 ---
Morning Scoring Average (71.46) vs. Afternoon Scoring Average (71.99).
Since 2003, the 17th hole has never averaged under par in any round and there has never been a round without a ball in the water. On Thursday, featuring a newly-utilized tee box for 2012, there were three balls in the water (Matt Bettencourt, Billy Hurley III, Brendon Todd) and the hole yielded a 3.058 average.
The par-4 18th hole played the most difficult in the first round at 4.335. The par-5 15th hole was the easiest at 4.471.
Nos. 16-18 at Quail Hollow Club, named "The Green Mile", have cumulatively ranked as the toughest three-hole finishing stretch on TOUR in two of the last three years. Here's how they played on Thursday: No. 16 (4.213/4th toughest), No. 17 (3.058/8th toughest), No. 18 (4.335/toughest).
D.J. Trahan withdrew during the round with a back injury.
AP/WFMY News 2 Sports