Shane Lowry was convinced his game was on the rise, despite his poor scoring. He finally showed that on Thursday in the RBC Heritage, shooting a six-under 65 to take a one-shot lead.
Trey Mullinax, Daniel Berger, Luke List, Ryan Moore and Ryan Palmer were tied for second.
Top-ranked Dustin Johnson, coming off a second-place tie at Masters last week, rallied with two birdies in his final seven holes for a 68, leaving him three shots back.
Lowry had not broken 70 in a stroke-play event since a 67 in the third round at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am in early February on his way to missing the cut. The Irishman missed three more cuts in the past five weeks, including going 78-73 to end his Masters after two rounds.
Things changed for Lowry at Harbour Town Golf Links, where he birdied three of his first six holes. He made three more birdies on his back nine.
Palmer drove the green on his final hole, the par-four ninth, and was about 12 feet away from catching Lowry with an eagle. But the putt slid two feet past and he tapped in for a birdie.
A group of eight, headed by Patrick Cantlay, was two strokes back at 67. Cantlay finished ninth at the Masters helped by a 64-68 weekend.
Johnson led 12 players tied for 15th .
The tournament, which typically struggles to attract a quality field the week following the Masters, was packed with star power with 11 of the world’s top 30 players entered. A couple, however, showed that fatigue that comes from a gruelling, pressure-filled week at Augusta National.
Defending champ Brooke Henderson in hunt in Hawaii halfway through second round
Nelly Korda birdied four of her final five holes Thursday to take a two-shot lead over defending champion Brooke Henderson of Smiths Falls, Ont., midway through the second round of the Lotte Championship.
Korda and Henderson each shot four-under 68 at breezy Ko Olina Golf Club. At 13-under 131, Korda broke the tournament 36-hole record by three shots.
The 20-year-old Korda won the Women’s Australian Open in February for her second LPGA Tour title. She opened the season with five straight top-10 finishes before tying for 52nd two weeks ago in the major ANA Inspiration.
Ji Eun-hee, a stroke behind Korda after a first-round 64, was in the afternoon group.
Michelle Wie shot her second straight 77, leaving her last in the 144-player field after the morning wave. The 2014 winner in her home event, she has struggled with pain in her right hand following off-season surgery.