Josh Teater took the first-round lead Thursday in the Reno-Tahoe Open, scoring five points with an eagle on the par-5 eighth hole and finishing with a two-point birdie on the ninth in the modified Stableford event.
Winless on the PGA Tour, Teater had the eagle, six birdies and two bogeys for 15 points in gusty, swirling wind on the edge of the Sierra Nevada at Montreux Golf & Country Club. Players receive eight points for double eagle, five for eagle, two for birdie, zero for par, minus-one for bogey and minus-three for double bogey or worse.
Gary Woodland and James Driscoll were a point back, Greg Chalmers followed at 13, Stuart Appleby and Colt Knost had 12, and 2008 Masters champ Trevor Immelman topped the group at 10. Defending champion J.J. Henry had three points.
Teater drove the ball an average of 305 yards and hit one 367.
On the 636-yard eighth hole, the Kentucky native followed a 341-yard drive with a 298-yard hybrid approach to set up a 16-foot eagle putt. He closed with a 7-foot birdie putt on the par-4 ninth.
"It was kind of a funny day out there," Teater said after the round in gusts in excess of 30 mph that made club selection difficult at the high-altitude course where he finished seventh last year and tied for 10th the year before.
"It was swirling," he said. "You get between the trees and going up the mountain and it’s always hard to judge."
Woodland, who also averaged more than 300 yards a drive, had seven birdies in his bogey-free round. Driscoll had eight birdies but two bogeys.
The 34-year-old Teater turned pro in 2001 and won the 2009 Utah Championship on the Web.com Tour. He has three top- 10 finishes on the PGA Tour this year, including a tie for second behind Tiger Woods at Torrey Pines.
"When you see the way the points shake out — an eagle is worth five points, which is 2 times a birdie," Teater said. "You can make a lot of moves in one round."
Woodland birdied his first five holes and his last two, dropping a 4-foot putt on the par-3 17th, then driving 370 yards downhill and hitting a 5-iron 266 yards before two-putting from 8 feet for a birdie on the 616-yard, par-5 18th.
"I think length is a huge advantage here," Woodland said. "With the altitude. … I was hitting middle irons into the par 5s."
Woodland also had a two-putt birdie on the par-5 eighth after his drive went 380 yards, then holed a 9-footeer for birdie on No. 9.
"Going to have to make a lot of birdies out here, but the golf course suits that," he said.
Starting on No. 10, Driscoll birdied four of his first six holes but drove the ball into the sage brush en route to a bogey on No. 18. He missed a 4-foot par putt on the par-4 seventh, but followed that with an 11-foot birdie putt after blasting out of the greenside bunker on the No. 8.
"Overall, top to bottom, probably one of the better rounds I’ve had for sure," Driscoll said. "Even the bogeys I made I didn’t feel I hit that bad of shots."
Woodland and Chalmers both had early morning tee times before the strongest wind gusts, but even then the breezy conditions made it difficult.
"I grew up in western Australia in the third-windiest city in the world, so the wind doesn’t bother me," Chalmers said.
"It’s figuring out the yardages based on the altitude and the down-hills we have. On the last hole today I had 175 actual yards, but I was hitting pitching wedge, which normally goes 130 yards.
"So, once you figure out all those numbers, it’s quite mind boggling to think this is actually going to go far enough. You need a master’s in calculus sometimes to figure out the angles."