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Noren grabs early Bermuda lead with 61 as Long sets record

golf09 November 2023 22:33| Ā© Reuters
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Sweden's Alex Noren fired a 10-under par 61, matching the course record, to seize the lead after darkness halted Thursday's opening round of the US PGA Tour's Bermuda Championship.

The 41-year-old from Stockholm made a tournament-record 11 birdies against a lone bogey at Port Royal in Southampton for his low 18-hole score in 510 official tour rounds.

"I'm very happy. It was great to get a 10-under," Noren said.Ā "It was a long time ago I had a really low round, lower than maybe 5-6-under, so I feel good."

There was also a US PGA Tour record for American Adam Long, who broke the 31-year-old mark for consecutive fairways hit and stretched his streak to 69 before missing the fairway on the par-4 15th to end the historic run.

"Made Thursday a little more exciting than usual," Long said.

Noren, who shared third last month at Las Vegas for his best finish of the year, led by two strokes over Americans Dylan Wu, Vince Whaley, DJ Trahan and Robert Garrigus when darkness ended play.

"It felt great in Vegas, had a chance to win but couldn't do it," Noren said. "But it at least gave me a good setup for next year and just improved my game and then I can get back to the big tournaments."

Nine players had yet to finish the opening round, but only American Kevin Roy at six-under on his final hole, was less than seven shots off the pace.

Noren, chasing his first US PGA title, is a 10-time winner on the DP World Tour, most recently at the 2018 French Open.

He opened on the back nine and birdied the 12th hole, then reeled off three birdies in a row starting at the 14th and began a run of four consecutive birdies at the 18th.

He answered his lone bogey at the fifth with birdies on the sixth and par-5 seventh holes and closed with another at the ninth to equal the 18-hole course mark set by Canada's Taylor Pendrith in 2021.

LONG FAIRWAY RECORD

Long, who fired a 66, broke the PGA Tour record for hitting consecutive fairways, a run of 59 set in 1992 by American Brian Claar.

Long started the event with 58 in a row, dating to the 17th hole of his final round of last month's Shriners Children's Open.

At last week's World Wide Technology Championship, Long became the first player since Claar in 1992 to hit every fairway in a tournament, going 56-for-56.

Long set the new mark by finding the fairway on the first and second holes at Port Royal.

"It was fun," Long said. "Had everyone not come up and said something to me the last 24 hours, I probably wouldn't think about it as much as I did. But it was in my mind, for sure, to start."

The run ended at the 15th hole.

"It was a 3-wood that I kind of hit up in the air a little too spinny and the wind caught it," Long said. "Didn't quite go far enough so it stayed in the rough. Yeah, it was a little bit of relief that part was over."

The round also marked the PGA Tour debut of 15-year-old Bermudan Oliver Betschart, the fifth-youngest player in tour history and youngest since 2013.

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