SEA ISLAND, GA (February 3, 2017) -- Few players had a better fall than Ole Miss sophomore Braden Thornberry and now he is looking to set the tone for his spring season. On a picture perfect day Thornberry fired a first round bogey-free 5-under 67 to take the lead by two-strokes over a star filled field at the 12th annual Jones Cup Invitational.
Starting on the 10th hole of the Ocean Forest Golf Club, Thornberry got off to a solid if not mundane start with a 1-under 35 opening nine. Early on his second nine the steady play continued but still no fireworks.
However, all that changed quickly; after a stretch of four straight pars, Thornberry carded an eagle on the par-5 3rd before rolling in a birdie on the next hole to swiftly reach 4-under.
Not done yet the three-time winner in the fall capped his round with a closing hole birdie to close in 4-under 32.
“(I) just played relaxed all day and went from there,” Thornberry told Golfweek's Brentley Romine.
Residing two shots back of Thornberry at 3-under are LSU sophomore Sam Burns and Clemson sophomore Bryson Nimmer.
Burns began on the 10th hole as well and promptly birdied the hole. Instantly in the red, Burns went to work and birdied four more times while bogeying just twice. The additional birdies for the 2016 PING Honorable Mention All-American came on the 13th, 3rd, 6th and 8th holes.
Teeing off on No. 1 Nimmer started quickly with his first birdie coming on the 2nd. The 2016 All-ACC First Teamer did fall back to even-par with a 7th hole bogey but from then on it was nearly flawless golf the rest of the way with birdies falling on the 8th, 10th, 12th and 14th holes. Nimmer's only other blemish was an 18th hole bogey.
A trio of players --Dylan Meyer of Illinois and future Alabama teammates Davis Shore, Wilson Furr-- share fourth place at 2-under.
Heading into the second round the leaderboard is a crowded one with 21 players 1-over or better and within six-strokes of the lead.
-Golfweek contributed to this story