ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. (AP) — Webb Simpson birdied seven of his last 10 holes at the Plantation Course on Thursday for a 7-under 65 and the first-round lead in the RSM Classic, the final PGA Tour event of the year.

The top-ranked player in the field at No. 12, Simpson is coming off a six-week break since tying for seventh in Las Vegas.

“I only have a week off before Tiger’s tournament and we leave from there for the Presidents Cup, so I’ve had my time off,” Simpson said. “I’ve been home a lot lately, so it’s nice to get back at it.”

He began the birdie run on the par-5 18th and played the front nine in 6-under 30 with birdies on Nos. 1, 3, 5, 7, 8 and 9.

“I grew up going to the beach in Wilmington, so I just love any time I get close to the coast here or Hilton Head, I just love it. That combined with enjoying the golf courses, my family’s coming, so it’s a good week for me.”

Three players were 6 under. Cameron Tringale and Kyoung-Hoon Lee shot 64 on Sea Island’s Seaside Course, and Rhein Gibson had a 66 on the Plantation layout. The final two rounds will be played on the Seaside Course.


“I think you play what the course gives you and if you’re in position, you’ve got to take advantage of good drives and short putts into these holes,” Tringale said. “But if you’re not in play in the right place, it can be really brutal out here. “

Brendon Todd opened with his bid for third straight victory with a 66 on the Seaside Course. He’s coming off victories in the Bermuda Championship and Mayakoba Golf Classic.

Tournament host Davis Love III had a 68 on the Seaside Course.