PGA Tour players light up standings at AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — The 76th Annual AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am has lost some of its star power due to a contentious tournament in the Middle East.

Defending champion and world number 16 Daniel Berger withdrew on Wednesday night due to back pain.

But one name dropped out of the standings in Thursday’s first round.

And it’s a name to remember. Power, Seamus Power.

On a sunny, calm day by the sea, the Irishman with a vibrant family name, ranked 438th in the world last April and facing the prospect of losing his PGA Tour player status, continued his fine form with a bogey-free, 8-under-par 64 at Spyglass, which included four straight birdies to end the round.

“I know this place always plays the hardest,” Power said. “I’ve always really enjoyed playing Spyglass, it fits me well and the game looks in good shape, so I thought, why not? I hit a horrible tee shot on the par-3 5th, I had a really good back and forth to kind of stay at 4 (under) and then just clicked going in, really, made some really nice putts and some really nice shots.

Pebble Beach Pro-Am: Ranking

Power trails only Tom Hoge, who finished second two weeks ago at the American Express and took the first-round lead with a bogey-free, 9-under-par 63 at Pebble Beach. Another player on the rise is Hoge, who has birdied six straight from his nine starters; he has gone from 114th place in the world rankings to 68th since the start of the season.

“It’s hard to be in a bad mood here,” said Hoge, who is seeking his first PGA Tour title. “I mean, Pebble Beach and perfect weather is about as good as it gets. So it was very fun. I feel like I played well. I was excited to hang out here on the golf course and I feel like Pebble Beach is a good golf course for me, so I was excited to hang out here this week.

“I made a few putts. I switched putters this week (after missing the Famers Insurance Open cut). Seeing one come in off the tee today on the first hole was huge for me. I felt like I made a lot of good putts today, but I felt like I was really close last week, just a very hard golf course (south to Torrey Pines) there- low. I’ve driven it in the rough a few too many times and just haven’t made enough putts. But the margins are so small between missing a cut and being in contention, so you just try to keep a positive attitude and keep going.

Jonas Blixt, who won Tour titles in 2012 and 2013 but fell to No. 1,219 in the world rankings, shot 7 under par 64 on the Monterey Peninsula Shore Course. Rookie Austin Smotherman, who tied for 11th last week at the Farmers Insurance Open, had two eagles and shot 65 at Pebble Beach.

The biggest name on the front page of the leaderboard was Patrick Cantlay, the defending FedEx Cup champion and PGA Tour player of the year. The top-ranked player in the field at No. 4, who has two wins and two other top 10s in his last four starts, birdied his last three holes to shoot 65 on the Monterey Peninsula Shore Course.

“I started strong and had a weird mid-set, I definitely gave away a few. And then closed really hard. So finishing with three games in a row on this golf course is a very nice end and I’m happy with my start to the week,” he said. “I really like it here. It’s so beautiful. And when you have a week like that with good weather, it’s the best.

Also at 65 at the Monterey Peninsula was Andrew Putnam.

“I mean this course is amazing. I feel like you could sleep on the fairways, they’re just perfect,” Putnam said.

Former world number one Jason Day, who has eight top-7 finishes without a win in the tournament, shot 68 at Pebble.

Jordan Spieth, the three-time major winner who won this event in 2017, shot 68 at the Monterey Peninsula.

Power’s emergence began when he chained five consecutive top-20 finishes starting last May and then winning the Barbasol Championship in July. In his last seven PGA Tour starts, he has six top-15 finishes, including three in as many starts this year. He is now ranked 50th in the world.

“It’s always fun with the three courses,” he said. “Obviously it’s good to have a good start, but you’re taking on a completely different challenge. (Friday) I’m playing Pebble at 8:40 am and it’s going to be a completely different course than today.

“So that kind of makes it easier to reset and hopefully we can keep doing the same thing tomorrow.”

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