New year, new me

Sepp Straka is your first-round leader at the Safeway Open following a sparkling 63 on Thursday. Straka poured in nine birdies on the day to take a 1-shot lead into the second round. Leaderboard

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Straka is among the new crop of players on the PGA Tour after an extremely strong year on the Web.com Tour in 2018. Straka earned his card thanks to a good run at the Web.com Tour Finals where he finished 20th on the money list. Straka played his college golf at University of Georgia and won this year's Web.com KC Golf Classic.

New Year, New Me

Sitting in second place and just two shots back of Straka is Phil Mickelson. Phil finished his 2017-2018 campaign with a T-58 (out of 70) at the BMW and a DFLat the Tour Championship. He then proceeded to put on one of the worst Ryder Cup performances in recent memory. Phil has been working really hard over the offseason and seems to be rested and primed for a strong 2018-2019 campaign.

But seriously...what the hell is going on? Phil looked like the worst golfer on the planet just 4 days ago and now he is ready to come back and win golf tournaments? He’s even wearing the button down in competition just to rub our face in it! Yet again, Phil is the most interesting man in the golf world. He doesn’t always stink, but when he does, he stinks in Paris.

Other Leaderboard Notes

A bevy of newcomers are tied for 3rd place after firing opening 66s. Chase Wright, Alex Prugh, Sungjae Im, and Adam Long all made it through the Web.com Tour a few weeks ago and are impressing on the PGA Tour immediately. They join J.T. Posten, Brandt Snedeker, Mackenzie Hughes and Sam Saunders at that mark.

Other newcomers that impressed on Thursday were Dylan Frittelli (-5), Adam Schenk (-5), Peter Malnati (-4) and Brandon Harkins (-4).

Bud Cauley shot 70 in his return to the PGA Tour. In June, he was involved in a serious car crash that left him with a collapsed lung, broken ribs, and a fractured left leg. Cauley is a tour favorite, and it’s great to see him back healthy.

Playing on a sponsor’s exemption, former MLB pitcher Mark Mulder put on an extremely impressive performance on Thursday. The former Brave and Oakland Athletic shot 75 and currently sits in a tie for 134th place.

Fourth Time is the Charm

Seeking his fourth European Tour victory of the season, Matt Wallace shot out to a tie for the lead at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Thursday. The Englishman made six birdies on the Old Course for a 68 and is tied with Marcus Frazier who shot the same score at Carnoustie. Weather played a significant impact in Scotland on Thursday as winds blew up over 30 mph and put a premium on ball striking. In total, only 24 of the 168-player field was able to shoot under par.

Other notables include Irish veterans Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley, who both shot rounds of 69 at Kingsbarns. One behind them are Brooks Koepka and Tyrell Hatton, who each shot 70 to tie for 8th through one round. 22-year-old Swede Marcus Kinhult also shot a round of 70 and finds himself two shots back of the lead. Leaderboard

UL International Crown

Continuing east across the globe, Team Korea got off to a great start in the UL International Crown. Playing in front of their home crowd, their team won both matches on Thursday, the only team of eight to achieve that result. Thailand, the USA, and England all got off to solid starts on Thursday as well. Team USA takes on the Jutanugarn sisters and Team Thailand on Friday. Scores

Keeping Up with Koepka

After a whole lot of speculation of an alleged fight between Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka following the Ryder Cup, we have finally heard from Brooks himself. On Wednesday, he said, “This Dustin thing, I just don’t get. There was no fight, no argument. He’s one of my best friends. I love the kid to death. We talked on the phone Monday and yesterday, so you tell me how we fought.”

That settles that.

Shotgun Start: A mother-in-law + Facebook = danger, Phil goes low, and the International Crown template

Brendan is under the weather, Andy is in an airport, and Pat Reed’s mother-in-law nuked the show plans. But we soldier on to deliver a Friday episode that covers more Reed family drama, Brooks Koepka’s denial, Phil suddenly pouring in birdies, and the fantastic UL International Crown format. We cap it off with a flashback Friday to an ignominious smother-hook from a Safeway Open past. Listen on iTunesStitcher or Spotify.