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PGA Tour stars ball out RBC Heritage, Signature Event

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There may have been a major championship last week, but the PGA Tour stars at RBC Heritage started this event with a bang.

Ludvig Åberg, Collin Morikawa, Sahith Theegala, Patrick Cantlay and many others went low in Hilton Head Thursday.

But it is J.T. Poston who shot the low round of the day with an 8-under 63. Morikawa posted a 6-under 65 and is tied for second. Six guys shot 5-under 66, including Åberg.

Rory McIlory is right there also after firing off a 4-under 67 along with six other guys. This Pete Dye course was rewarding to the biggest names in golf all day long.

The top of the leaderboard is stacked after the first 18 holes. Fifty-six players shot even par or better.

There were 267 birdies made during Thursday’s round.

Poston led the field with nine of them. He also leads in strokes gained total, averaging 6.36.

“I chipped and putted it really well,” Poston said. “I felt like it was one of those days where if I could give myself a look, and I felt pretty confident in being able to make those putts, whether it was a close one or a 20-, 25-footer.”

Morikawa redeemed himself from his meltdown at Augusta National. The world saw him shoot 2-over and settle for a T3 Sunday. However, he made seven birdies and one bogey at Hilton Head to start strong.

“When you find this little rhythm, and you find this kind of — just pathway to play golf, it’s very simple,” Morikawa said. “Sometimes when you’re playing bad, you look back and you wonder why it can’t be that simple. It’s a nice little groove to be in, and hopefully, we can keep this going throughout the rest of this week.”

Åberg, meanwhile, brought his momentum from Augusta National with him South Carolina. He recorded an eagle at the par-5 5th after hitting a perfect shot with his 2-iron off the tee.

The former Texas Tech Red Raider refused to let his error on Masters Sunday follow him to Hilton Head.

It was a fresh start for the young Swedish phenom, who was nearly perfect off the tee. He hit 13-of-14 fairways and led the field in strokes gained off the tee, picking up two shots on the field.

“I think tee to green was really good,” Åberg said. “It makes it a lot easier if you’re good off the tee here at this golf course because you avoid the trees and all the angles. Did that very well today. You can be a little bit more aggressive into the greens, but still can’t really force anything. Felt like we did that very well today, and hopefully, we’ll be able to keep that up the rest of the week.”

The reigning RSM Classic winner played alongside McIlroy, who is four shots off the lead.

McIlroy started his day with a birdie and made an eagle on the 5th. He coughed up a shot on 12 but redeemed himself, making back-to-back birdies to close his round.

“I made two good swings at the last to put it in there close, and nice to finish with a three,” McIlroy said. “Managed my game quite well during the middle when I didn’t have it. Feel like I’ve got a good chance to get myself right in the tournament tomorrow morning. I could have made a couple more bogeys around the turn, and I didn’t.”

Players better take advantage of conditions on Friday because there is a higher chance of rain for the weekend, which lowers the scoring opportunities.

For now, some of the best players in the world are in contention, making the RBC Heritage a must-watch tournament.

Savannah Leigh Richardson is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. For more golf coverage, be sure to follow us @_PlayingThrough on all major social platforms. You can also follow her on Twitter @SportsGirlSL and Instagram @savannah_leigh_sports.


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