Jonas Blixt tees off on the ninth hole during the first round of the Greenbrier Classic golf tournament at the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., Thursday July 3, 2014 (AP Photo/Chris Tilley)

Chris Tilley

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — Jonas Blixt’s memory of raising the trophy last year carried over to a strong start at the Greenbrier Classic.

The defending champion shot a 6-under 64 on Thursday to take a one-stroke lead over former Stanford star Patrick Rodgers and seven others at Old White TPC.

Blixt tied for second in the Masters but missed the cut in three of his last four starts. Returning to The Greenbrier resort brought him back to a comfort zone.

Starting on the 10th hole in the morning with little wind, Blixt had six birdies on his front nine and made the turn at 5 under. Six of the Swede’s eight birdies came on putts of 10 feet or less. He also chipped in from the rough for birdie on No. 16.

“The golf course is in perfect shape, like last year,” Blixt said. “You come back with a bunch of confidence knowing that you won here before.

“If I can get my putter to work the way it did today, I felt like I hit the ball on line every time, and it could be a really good week.”

Rodgers is looking to make his third straight cut since turning pro. He holed a 118-yard wedge for eagle on the par-4 first hole — his 10th hole of the day.

After the round, he was back on the driving range.

“Being a new pro out here, you’re always trying to figure out and establish your routines,” Rodgers said, “and mine is just kind of cool down after the round and working on the things I felt like I can improve, and hopefully be ready for tomorrow.”

Also at 65 under were Chris Kirk, D.A. Points, James Hahn, Jason Bohn, Joe Durant, Jim Renner and Danny Lee.

Steve Stricker, who has wife Nicki carrying his bag this week, was among eight player at 66. Jimmy Johnson, his regular caddie, was already scheduled to carry Chris Kirk’s bag when Stricker became a late entry at The Greenbrier.

Stricker is playing only his eighth tour event this year. He’ll compete again next week at John Deere and is leaning against going to the British Open unless he has one or more high finishes before then.

“We’ll just keep plugging along and see what happens,” Stricker said.

Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson played alongside Keegan Bradley and Webb Simpson, getting a close-up view as he contemplates his three captain’s picks for the Sept. 26-28 event at Gleneagles in Scotland.

“The Ryder Cup’s a long way in the distance,” Watson said. “I’m watching other people as well. It’s fun to be out here to get to know the young players a little bit better.”

Watson took a similar approach in April, playing with Jordan Spieth at the RBC Heritage and Patrick Reed at Augusta National.

Watson has said he would use a wild-card pick on Tiger Woods if he’s healthy and playing well, leaving all sorts of possibilities with the other two picks.

Simpson, who shot 71 on Thursday, is 17th in the U.S. Ryder Cup standings and Bradley, who shot 67, is 18th. Others ahead of them in the Greenbrier Classic field are Kirk at No. 11, Brendon Todd at No. 13 and Kevin Na at No. 15.

The top nine get automatic berths on the U.S. squad. Reed, also in the Greenbrier field, is at No. 9, while Phil Mickelson, not playing this week, is 10th.

“You’d think that one round or two rounds wouldn’t determine us being on the team. That would be kind of silly,” Bradley said. “It doesn’t hurt to play well. Put it that way.”

Bubba Watson, the top-ranked player in the field at No. 3 in the world, had a 68. Only two rounds of 65 or better came during the afternoon when the wind picked up and the greens became more firm.

“I wish I could guess the wind differently, but otherwise it was a good day,” Watson said.



At The Old White TPC

White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.

Purse: $6.5 million

Yardage: 7,287; Par 70 (34-36)

First Round

a-denotes amateur

Jonas Blixt 33-31—64

James Hahn 32-33—65

Jason Bohn 31-34—65

Joe Durant 31-34—65

Chris Kirk 32-33—65

D.A. Points 32-33—65

Patrick Rodgers 30-35—65

Jim Renner 30-35—65

Danny Lee 32-33—65

Sang-Moon Bae 34-32—66

Michael Thompson 33-33—66

Steve Stricker 34-32—66

Kevin Na 34-32—66

Troy Merritt 31-35—66

Chris Stroud 33-33—66

Pat Perez 33-33—66

Chad Collins 34-32—66

Michael Putnam 32-35—67

Davis Love III 32-35—67

Ben Curtis 34-33—67

Charles Howell III 33-34—67

Patrick Reed 32-35—67

Charlie Beljan 32-35—67

David Lingmerth 31-36—67

Tyrone Van Aswegen 32-35—67

Kevin Chappell 34-33—67

Luke Guthrie 33-34—67

Robert Allenby 32-35—67

Keegan Bradley 33-34—67

Bobby Wyatt 33-34—67

Gonzalo Fdez-Castano 31-37—68

Mark Wilson 33-35—68

Marc Leishman 34-34—68

Woody Austin 36-32—68

Scott Langley 33-35—68

Ricky Barnes 33-35—68

Robert Streb 31-37—68

John Daly 34-34—68

Brice Garnett 33-35—68

Will Wilcox 34-34—68

Jim Herman 34-34—68

Billy Hurley III 32-36—68

Tim Wilkinson 33-35—68

Camilo Villegas 32-36—68

Johnson Wagner 34-34—68

Angel Cabrera 34-34—68

J.B. Holmes 34-34—68

Bubba Watson 35-33—68

Steven Bowditch 33-35—68

David Hearn 33-35—68

Justin Hicks 33-35—68

Jamie Lovemark 35-33—68

Chad Campbell 34-35—69

James Driscoll 34-35—69

Brian Davis 34-35—69

Jeff Maggert 34-35—69

David Toms 35-34—69

Bill Haas 34-35—69

Troy Kelly 32-37—69

Trevor Immelman 33-36—69

Patrick Cantlay 33-36—69

Greg Chalmers 34-35—69

Gary Woodland 33-36—69

Stephen Ames 35-34—69

Steve Marino 33-36—69

Josh Teater 32-37—69

Bud Cauley 32-37—69

Wes Roach 35-34—69

Andrew Loupe 35-34—69

Kevin Tway 33-36—69

Martin Flores 33-37—70

Kevin Kisner 36-34—70

Brendan Steele 34-36—70

J.J. Henry 32-38—70

Jimmy Walker 34-36—70

Scott Stallings 35-35—70

Heath Slocum 34-36—70

Spencer Levin 36-34—70

Will MacKenzie 36-34—70

Scott Gardiner 33-37—70

Brad Fritsch 35-35—70

Jason Gore 34-36—70

Nick Watney 33-37—70

George McNeill 34-36—70

Ted Potter, Jr. 34-36—70

Matt Bettencourt 34-36—70

Morgan Hoffmann 34-36—70

Brendon de Jonge 36-34—70

Oliver Goss 36-34—70

Alex Aragon 34-36—70

Bronson La’Cassie 33-37—70

Darren Clarke 35-36—71

Jhonattan Vegas 35-36—71

Justin Leonard 36-35—71

Scott McCarron 35-36—71

John Peterson 38-33—71

Benjamin Alvarado 35-36—71

Richard H. Lee 35-36—71

Derek Ernst 35-36—71

Jonathan Byrd 35-36—71

Vijay Singh 37-34—71

Brendon Todd 34-37—71

Carl Pettersson 36-35—71

Webb Simpson 35-36—71

Tom Watson 34-37—71

Kyle Stanley 32-39—71

Daniel Chopra 36-35—71

Nick Faldo 33-38—71

Alex Prugh 34-37—71

Rory Sabbatini 36-36—72

Mike Weir 37-35—72

Scott Brown 33-39—72

Tommy Gainey 35-37—72

Sean O’Hair 35-37—72

Andrew Svoboda 34-38—72

Doug LaBelle II 35-37—72

Edward Loar 37-35—72

Andres Romero 34-38—72

Roberto Castro 34-38—72

Brian Harman 35-37—72

Harrison Frazar 37-35—72

Ken Duke 35-37—72

Bryce Molder 36-36—72

Troy Matteson 35-37—72

Cameron Tringale 36-36—72

Kevin Foley 36-36—72

Hudson Swafford 35-37—72

Thorbjorn Olesen 34-39—73

Paul Goydos 36-37—73

Neal Lancaster 38-35—73

William McGirt 36-37—73

Shawn Stefani 36-37—73

Stuart Appleby 36-37—73

Ben Martin 37-36—73

D.H. Lee 37-36—73

Tim Clark 35-38—73

John Huh 37-36—73

Jeff Curl 38-35—73

Miguel Angel Carballo 38-35—73

x-Brian Anania 35-38—73

Robert McClellan 36-37—73

Charlie Wi 37-37—74

K.J. Choi 39-35—74

Peter Hanson 37-37—74

Nicholas Thompson 37-37—74

Scott Verplank 36-39—75

Y.E. Yang 35-40—75

Chesson Hadley 36-39—75

Daniel Summerhays 33-42—75

John Rollins 35-40—75

Peter Malnati 38-37—75

Tag Ridings 38-38—76

Brian Agee 39-37—76

Mikey Moyers 40-37—77

Rod Perry 36-42—78