Brooks Koepka sits nine strokes off the lead after carding a 2-over-par 74 in the opening round of the CJ Cup in his first taste of PGA Tour action since August.
The former World No.1 drifted out of the top ten in the rankings last week and made a slow start in Las Vegas with three birdies offset by three bogeys and a double.
“I thought I played a hell of a lot better than the score,” he said.
Lingering hip and knee issues forced Koepka to miss the FedExCup Playoffs and the US Open in September but he confirmed he is healthy again as he tunes up for The Masters next month.
“Everything feels good,” he said. “I feel like I’m supposed to and this event is more for just getting competitive reps for Augusta. That’s kind of what this is.”
Tyrrell Hatton leads the way after a sublime 7-under 65 while two shots back is Spaniard Jon Rahm, who had to fish his glove out of a bin after mistakenly throwing it away mid-round.
Rahm found that all the new gloves in his bag were the wrong size, so the one he tossed in the trash was the only one that fit and he had to retrieve it.
“The one I threw away was just a little too dry, so I was losing grip in the hand,” he smiled. “The ones in the bag were too small so I couldn’t use them… Not that it affected much, but I had to go fish it out of the trash can…”
Rahm led the field in strokes gained: off the tee and strokes gained: tee to green en route to his 5-under 67.