LAS VEGAS – Talk about getting on a heater.
Robert Streb might have wanted to be sitting at a blackjack table on the Las Vegas Strip Thursday morning with stacks of chips considering how hot he was running, but the emerald felt at The Summit worked out just fine for his blistering ways.
With no wind whistling about this soft, sun-drenched desert layout, and his hot hand working off the tees, from the fairways and on the greens, Streb lit up the scoreboard with a record-tying start in the CJ Cup.
His finish wasn’t bad, either.
The two-time PGA Tour winner started birdie-birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie-birdie before missing a 13-footer for birdie on the par-3 seventh. He got up and down for par from just off the green on the eighth hole and two-putted for par from 26 feet on the ninth to make the turn with a 7-under 29.
After his cooling off period of four pars and a bogey on the 11th when he missed the green, Streb finished with five birdies in his last seven holes. He made back with three consecutive birdies starting at the 12th from 2, 12 and 2 feet. Added another from 20 feet on the 16th. And another from 11 feet on the last.
And then Streb signed for a career-how, 11-under-par 61 to grab the clubhouse lead by four shots among the early finishers.
“I’ve never had a start like that, so it was kind of fun,” the unassuming Streb said. “I was trying to stay in the moment as best I can and, I don’t know, you just feel like you can start aiming at stuff. Things seemed to be going my way.
“Slowed down a little I guess in the middle, but it was a really, really good round. Even that bogey, I almost made the putt, so it just went really well.”
With his five birdies and an eagle, Streb joined Brandt Snedeker (first round of the 2007 Farmers Insurance Open) as the only two players to start a PGA Tour event 7 under through six holes in the ShotLink era. Streb made birdie putts of 7, 6, 17, 4 and 3 feet and canned a 12-footer for eagle on the third hole in his opening stretch.
Streb also made a run at Corey Pavin’s 9-hole PGA Tour record. Pavin shot 9-under 26 on the front nine in the first round of the 2005 U.S. Bank Championship.
In all, Streb made 100 feet of putts. And Streb, who won the 2015 McGladrey Classic and 2021 RSM Classic, missed just one fairway in regulation and hit 13 of 18 greens in regulation.
Hudson Swafford opened with a 65 to stand in second, while reigning Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama, Aaron Wise, Cameron Smith and Jhonattan Vegas each shot 66.
“It was fun, it was fun,” said Swafford, who was playing with Streb. “Playing next to a 61, we had a lot of good positive vibes going today and saw a bunch of birdies, so it was nice.”
The players know they will need a bunch more birdies if they want to lift the hardware at the end of the week. Not much wind is in the forecast for the final three rounds and The Summit will be hard pressed to put up a fight.
“Obviously guys are going to shoot some low ones here this week,” Streb said. “So I’ll just try a plug along and see where I’m at at the end of the week.”