DALLAS, May 27, 2011 (AFP) - Jeff Overton, who tied for second here last year, fired a bogey-free six-under 64 to take the first-round lead at the $6.5 million PGA Tour Byron Nelson Championship on Thursday.
Overton leads fellow American Ryan Palmer by just one stroke at the TPC Four Seasons.
Overton's 22-foot birdie putt on the final hole lipped out but he still managed to post his best score in 15 rounds at the Byron Nelson.
"It's nice having confidence because of last year," Overton said. "I knew I played well. I just wanted to keep things rolling."
He drained a par-saving 10-foot putt at the 220-yard par-three second hole then had back-to-back birdies.
"That broke a lot and I thought I missed it, and it actually went in," Overton said. "And next thing, I was able to hit a lot of great shots and strike out early. I never had a chance of making bogey from there."
Overton finished in a three-way tie last year behind Aussie Jason Day. It was one of three runner-up finishes in 2010 for him.
He has made the cut in all but one of his previous 13 tournaments this season.
"I hope this is the beginning of a good streak for me," he said. "I've been hitting it really well the last three or four weeks, just have not made my putts all year."
This is Palmer's seven appearance at the Byron Nelson and he has made the cut just once.
Sergio Garcia didn't even play a practice round because of an infected fingernail on his left hand, was in a group of nine players at 66. Garcia withdrew from a British Open qualifier earlier this week.
"It's funny how golf is sometimes. Yeah, rarely practice at all and then we get there," Spaniard Garcia said. "I couldn't have started in a better way."
Garcia played in a group with American Dustin Johnson. Johnson finished at 66 along with Jeff Quinney, Scott Piercy, Will Strickler, Chris Riley, Josh Teater, Joe Ogilvie, Garcia and Keegan Bradley. Garcia is the lone non-American in the top 10.
Johnson shot under par for the eighth time in his last nine rounds at this tournament.
"The greens were great, so, you know, I got to give props to the grounds crew," Johnson said. "They did a really good job of getting the greens ready, especially after that hail storm. You've definitely got to give them a hand."
Leading scores on Thursday after the first round of the $6.5 million PGA Tour Byron Nelson Championship (USA unless noted):
64 - Jeff Overton
65 - Ryan Palmer
66 - Jeff Quinney, Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia (ESP), Scott Piercy, Will Strickler, Chris Riley, Josh Teater, Joe Ogilvie, Keegan Bradley
67 - Brandt Jobe, Ricky Barnes, Vaughn Taylor, Zack Miller, Garth Mulroy (RSA), Michael Putnam, Jerry Kelly, Chad Collins
68 - Arjun Atwal (IND), Vijay Singh (FIJ)
69 = Nick O'Hern (AUS). Robert Allenby (AUS), Rory Sabbatini (RSA), Jarrod Lyle (AUS), Ryuji Imada (JPN), Charlie Wi (KOR)
70 - Andres Romero (ARG), Rod Pampling (AUS), Marc Leishman (AUS), Carl Pettersson (SWE), John Senden (AUS), Fredrik Jacobson (SWE)
71 - Michael Sim (AUS), K.J. Choi (KOR), Stephen Ames (CAN), Cameron Percy (AUS), Chris Baryla (CAN), Sunghoon Kang (KOR), Alexandre Rocha (BRA)
72 - Jason Day (AUS), Brian Davis (GBR)
73 - Steve Elkington (AUS), Fabian Gomez (ARG), Greg Chalmers (AUS), Matt McQuillan (CAN), David Hearn (CAN)
74 - Mike Weir (CAN)
75 - Richard S. Johnson (SWE), Steven Bowditch (AUS), Nathan Green (AUS)
77 - Aron Price (AUS)