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Sahith Theegala on top after Day 1 at Sanderson Farms

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Sahith Theegala shot an 8-under-par 64 on Thursday to grab an early one-stroke lead through the first round of the Sanderson Farms Championship in Jackson, Miss.

The day also featured the PGA Tour return of 2019 U.S. Amateur champion Andy Ogletree, back after a five-month absence caused by hip surgery. He is three strokes off the lead at the Country Club of Jackson.

Nick Watney and Harold Varner III are both at 7 under while Kurt Kitayama, Canada’s Roger Sloan and South Korea’s Si Woo Kim are tied for fourth at 6 under.

Theegala, who matched his career-low score established at the Safeway Open last year, got off to a quick start on the back nine with birdies on his first three holes. He finished the day with eight birdies and no bogeys.

The 23-year-old Orange, Calif., native said of his round, “Really stress free. Probably the best way I can describe it. Just drove it really well. I was really working it well. …

“I just feel like I’m making slow progress and that’s what me and my coach have been working on, make a little bit of progress, even if it’s just .01 percent, just feel like you’re making progress. And I feel like I’ve been pretty good at sticking to a day-to-day routine instead of a longer-term routine.”

Varner’s round was highlighted by a run of four consecutive birdies after the turn, on the front nine. Varner, who is winless in 167 previous PGA Tour events, wound up with nine birdies and two bogeys.

Watney eagled the par-5 third hole, driving the green in two and sinking a 46-foot putt. He added six birdies and a bogey.

“I hit a great drive and then had just a great number for a 7-wood, which sometimes you hit a great drive and you’re in between but it was just a perfect number,” he said. “I hit a pretty disciplined shot on the green and then holed (the putt). So obviously a bonus, but I’ll take it on a day like this.”

Ogletree shot a 5-under 67, hitting 10 of 18 greens and not missing on putts within 10 feet.

“Regardless of the score, playing pain-free that’s most important to me right now,” Ogletree said. “It’s kind of freed me up, I mean, I don’t really have any expectations. This is my first PGA Tour event in six months. Obviously, I’m pleased with the start, but I’m more happy to be pain-free and just to be playing golf.”

Defending champion Sergio Garcia of Spain finished 2 under in a bogey-free round, and he is tied for 50th.

–Field Level Media

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