S.Y. Noh leads Byron Nelson by 3 after course record-tying 60

S.Y. Noh, of South Korea, watches a tee shot on the 10th hole during the first round of the Byron Nelson golf tournament Thursday in McKinney, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

McKINNEY, Texas — S.Y. Noh thought he didn’t have quite enough distance with his 3-wood as he pondered going for the green in two on the par-5 18th hole — setting up a potential eagle and a 59 in the first round of the AT&T Byron Nelson.

The South Korean didn’t seem to mind settling for tying the course record.

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Noh made three putts of at least 25 feet on the back nine for an 11-under 60 and a three-shot lead after the first round of the Nelson on Thursday.

Two-time defending champion K.H. Lee, also of South Korea, shot 71, leaving him 11 shots back in his bid to become the first to three-peat on the PGA Tour since Steve Stricker at the John Deere Classic from 2009-11.

Lee shot in the 60s for all eight rounds of the first two years of the Nelson at TPC Craig Ranch, about 30 miles north of Dallas.

Adam Scott, who tied for fifth last week at the Wells Fargo Championship, was three shots back at 63 along with Marty Dou of China after the Australian’s best opening round since 2014.

Headliner and hometown favorite Scottie Scheffler, at No. 2 the highest-ranked among four top-25 players in the field, shot 64 along with Aussie Jason Day. They were in a group that included Texan Ryan Palmer, Scott Piercy, Luke List and Richy Werenski.

Noh, whose last top-10 finish on tour came before a two-year military commitment in 2017, had to play part of his back nine without a driver when the head cracked on his tee shot on 12.

The 31-year-old journeyman with one career PGA Tour victory had a replacement by the time he reached the 547-yard 18th, and ended up 257 yards from the hole with a blind shot from the right side of the fairway.

Noh laid up short of the water in front of the green, hit his approach to 9 feet and made the putt to tie Sebastián Muñoz’s record from a year ago at Craig Ranch.

“So my 3-wood is going off the ground like 265, but it’s like just under 260 without the wind,” Noh said. “It’s like borderline.”

Noh decided against marring an otherwise great round with a mistake.

“Everything going good,” said Noh, who made an 8-foot eagle putt on the par-5 ninth. “Even wedge game and putting, everything going good. I’m just trying to make birdie, just forget about the eagle 59.”

Muñoz — now with LIV Golf — finished at 12 under in his opening round last year, but the course is a par 71 now after the 12th hole was converted from a 547-yard par-5 to a 493-yard par-4.

Noh, whose previous career low was 62 at the 2012 Deutsche Bank Championship, kept alive his shot at 59 by making a 27-foot par putt on 16 and a 34-footer for birdie on the par-3 stadium hole at No. 17.

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