Wheatcroft, Loupe lead Wells Fargo
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Steve Wheatcroft and Andrew Loupe each shot 7-under 65 on Thursday in rain and steady wind to share the first-round lead in the Wells Fargo Championship, while Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler dodged a thrown golf ball with an earplug attached to it.
As if battling a lengthy and saturated course wasn't enough, playing partners McIlroy and Fowler endured a bizarre event on the sixth tee box when a spectator hurled the dressed-up golf ball their way as Fowler was preparing to hit. The fan was escorted from the property by police.
Fowler, the 2012 winner at Quail Hollow, finished with a 71, leaving him six shots behind Wheatcroft and Loupe, who were also paired together. McIlroy, the only two-time winner of the tournament, shot a 73 after a bogey-plagued start to his title defense. He won by seven shots last year, finishing at 21 under.
Loupe, who has three top-10 finishes this season, shot a 31 on the front nine. Wheatcroft did his work on the four par 5s, playing them in 6 under with two eagles and two birdies.
India's Anibarn Lahiri was a shot back after a 66.
Phil Mickelson, who has finished in the top five six times in 12 starts at the Wells Fargo Championship but never won, opened with a 69.
Jim Furyk shot a 73 in his return from an eight-month layoff because of a wrist injury.
LPGA: At Prattville, Ala., Laetitia Beck took the first-round lead in the Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic, dodging some of the wind in the morning in a bogey-free 7-under 65.
The 24-year-old Beck, the first Israeli player to qualify for the LPGA Tour, was in the first group of the day off 10th tee. She birdied four of the final five holes on her opening nine in calmer conditions, and had three more — two on par 5s — on the windier second nine.
Annie Park and Australia's Minjee Lee were tied for second at 67. They played in the afternoon.