GREENSBORO, N.C. — Jason Allred got off to a blistering start in the Wyndham Championship’s opening round Thursday but wasn’t able to maintain the pace.
Allred started off with birdies on five of the first six holes to gain a share of the lead, but five bogeys followed before he birdied the final hole for a 1-under score of 69.
Allred is tied for 49th place entering today’s play. The Ashland native needs a good tournament to earn exemption on the PGA Tour next year. He tees off at 11:05 a.m. PDT today on the 10th hole.
Meanwhile, Camilo Villegas enjoyed a resurgence.
A recharged Villegas shot a 63 to take a one-stroke lead after the first round.
North Carolina natives Webb Simpson and William McGirt shot 64, and Scott Langley, Heath Slocum, Paul Casey, Andrew Loupe and Martin Laird were another stroke back in the final event before the PGA Tour’s playoffs.
Villegas hasn’t won since 2010 and has only two top-10 finishes in the last three years.
After pulling out of the Canadian Open after one round last month, he spent the past week back in his native Colombia for “a little recharge” — leaving his clubs behind in Florida.
“I just thought it was appropriate to hop on a plane and see mom and dad and recharge a little bit,” Villegas said.
It helped him make a late charge up the Sedgefield Country Club leaderboard.
Starting on the back nine, he had three early birdies before getting even hotter late: He followed his birdie on the fourth with an eagle on the par-5 fifth, placing his second shot about 3 feet from the stick.
He claimed sole possession of the lead two holes later with a birdie, sinking a 15-foot putt on the par-3 seventh.
But early leads have been something of a curse at Sedgefield. Since the tournament returned to the course in 2008, the only first-round leader to win was Arjun Atwal in 2010.
And first-round leads haven’t exactly been kind to Villegas lately, either. He held two of them last year, but missed the cut at the Honda Classic and finished 71st at the John Deere.
“I’ve also played great rounds and played some good ones after that,” Villegas said. “It’s a matter of just coming out here and playing good golf tomorrow. There shouldn’t be any relationship between Thursday-Friday and Friday-Saturday or Saturday-Sunday.”
Simpson, the 2011 winner, hopes to make an impression on U.S. Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson. His three captain’s picks are due next month. Simpson finished 15th on the Ryder Cup points list.
“It’s on my mind a little bit, but there are so many things I can’t control with what the captain does and how other guys play,” Simpson said. “I think if I have a good week this week — not just today but this week — it’ll show that I really want to make the team. I want to make a good argument for myself to be a pick.”
Simpson has always been a local favorite and top draw at this tournament — even before he claimed his first PGA Tour victory here three years ago, and well before he won the 2012 U.S. Open at the Olympic Club. The Raleigh native played college golf at nearby Wake Forest and lives in Charlotte.
Playing in the marquee grouping of the day along with fellow Wyndham winners Brandt Snedeker (2007) and Patrick Reed (2013), Simpson birdied his first four holes.
He was briefly at 7 under before he wound up with a bogey on the 17th when his 3-foot par putt hit a spike mark.
“Normally, the ball will kind of pop right over, but it got it pretty good and went right,” Simpson said. “Late in the day, it happens to everybody.”