Johnson Wagner birdied nine of his 18 holes while only mixing in two bogeys to shoot a seven-under 63 on Thursday to take a two-shot lead over Phil Mickelson and Brett Wetterich after the first round of the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial.
“Just hit it in the fairway a lot, hit a lot of greens, had a lot of good looks at birdie and mistakes were minimal,” Wagner said.
He birdied four of the first seven holes. After bogeys on two of the next three holes, Wagner responded with three straight birdies to get to 5-under and added two more at No. 15 and No. 18, sinking a 12-foot putt to complete his round.
Wetterich, winner of the 2006 EDS Byron Nelson Championship, also birdied No. 11, 12 aCnd 13 to get to 5-under, but had five pars to close out his round.
Mickelson, the second-ranked player in the world, showed precision with his irons. On his second shot at No. 7, he put his approach from 45 yards out to within nine inches of the hole. Of his six birdies overall, he made five putts of 12 feet or less.
Wagner, a 28-year-old native of Amarillo, has already had success this year in Texas. He won his first tournament of his career in April, capturing the Shell Houston Open. He second-best finish was at the Byron Nelson Championship, where he was 27th.
“I love playing here,” Wagner said. “It’s always nice to come home.”
No winner of the Houston Open has ever won the Colonial in the same year.
Glen Day shot a 66 to sit alone in fourth place, three strokes back. Eight other golfers shot 67s on Thursday.
Other than Mickelson, the four other Top-10 ranked players in the tournament finished the first round over par.