ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. (AP) — Webb Simpson signed up for the McGladrey Classic because it gave him a shot at winning the PGA Tour money title. He played Thursday as though he was intent on doing just that.
Simpson matched his best score of the year in the opening round at Sea Island, making eight birdies for a 7-under 63 that gave him a share of the lead with tour rookie Zack Miller.
Simpson has won twice in his last five tournaments, leaving him $68,971 behind Luke Donald on the money list with two tournaments remaining. Donald isn’t playing this week, and he has until 5 p.m. Friday to decide whether to play Disney next week in the final event of the PGA Tour season.
Also at stake is the PGA Tour player of the year award, with no clear favorite. No player has more than two wins and, while Donald has only one win in the United States, he has been No. 1 in the world since May. For Donald and Simpson, the money title could go a long way in collecting votes.
Simpson needs to finish at least in 15th place alone to surpass Donald.
Miller hasn’t made a cut since the Viking Classic in July and has fallen to No. 146 on the money list. If he doesn’t get into the top 150, he’ll have to return to the second stage of Q-school.
Martin Piller was tied for the lead until a bogey on the last hole put him in a large group at 64. That included Scott McCarron, who is No. 163 on the money list and birdied his last three holes. McCarron, like so many others in the Fall Series events, is trying to get inside the top 125 to secure his full PGA Tour card for next year. Also at 64 was Billy Horschel, who is No. 139 on the money list.
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — American Brittany Lang and South Korean star Na Yeon Choi shot 5-under 66s for shares of the first-round lead in the LPGA Malaysia.
Sweden’s Maria Hjorth and the Netherlands’ Dewi Claire Schreefel also opened with 66s at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club. American Paige Mackenzie and Spain’s Azahara Munoz were a stroke back.
Michelle Wie had a 68, and top-ranked Yani Tseng of Taiwan and defending champion Jimin Kang of South Korea shot 69s. England’s Melissa Reid had a hole-in-one on the par-3 fifth on her way to a 72.
VILAMOURA, Portugal — South Africa’s James Kingston shot an 8-under 64 to take a one-shot lead after the first round of the Portugal Masters at Oceanico Victoria.
Danish Ryder Cup player Thomas Bjorn, Northern Ireland’s Gareth Maybin, Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger, England’s Simon Khan and Wales’ Rhys Davies were a stroke back.
German star Martin Kaymer and three-time major champion Padraig Harrington of Ireland opened with 67s. John Daly had a 73.