Garrett Willis entered The Heritage seeking answers to his poor putting and had planned to park his longtime Scotty Cameron model. As he walked to the range yesterday morning, though Willis just couldn’t go through with it and asked his caddie to “go back to my car and get ‘Old Faithful.’ ’’
Good thing he did. Willis had a run of six straight birdies on the front nine on the way to a 7-under-par 64 and a one-shot lead in the suspended first round of the event in Hilton Head, S.C.
“Obviously, very excited about putting this well, and having a chance to make the cut for a change,’’ Willis said.
He held a one-stroke edge over Arjun Atwal, Matt Bettencourt, Chad Campbell, and Tim Herron and was two shots in front of Mark Wilson, Camilo Villegas, and 2009 Heritage winner Brian Gay.
Luke Donald led a group at 67 in a round slowed by a rain delay of 2 hours and 16 minutes. Because of the delay, 18 players did not finish before dark.
No. 3 Donald could move to No. 1 with a win.
Defending champion Jim Furyk and reigning US Open champion Graeme McDowell were in a pack at 68.
Ernie Els had a difficult start on a course he traditionally plays well with seven top 10s in 11 appearances. Els switched to a belly putter for the first round and struggled to a 75. He also incurred a two-stroke penalty on his next-to-last hole, the eighth, for testing the playing surface by raking a bunker of his footprints before his shot.
European — South Korea’s Han Chang-won shot an 8-under 64 to take a one-stroke lead in the suspended first round of the China Open in Chengdu. Han had six birdies in a front-nine 30 at Luxehills International CC.
Gareth Maybin, James Morrison, Bradley Dredge, and Soren Kjeldsen opened with 65s.
Defending champion Y.E. Yang and Liang Wen-chong opened with 68s, and Padraig Harrington had a 71.
Asian — Lee Westwood birdied his last two holes to post a 4-under 68 to trail Siddikur by two strokes after the first round of the Indonesian Masters in Jakarta.
Siddikur, the first Bangladeshi to win on the tour, shot 66, including two chip-ins for birdies.