Wheatcroft, Loupe share Wells Fargo lead

May 5, 2016

While it’s a star-studded field this week at the Wells Fargo Championship, the stars haven’t made their way to the top of the leaderboard – yet. Here’s how things look after the opening round at Quail Hollow, where Steve Wheatcroft and Andrew Loupe share the early lead:

Leaderboard: Steve Wheatcroft (-7), Andrew Loupe (-7), Anirban Lahiri (-6), Kevin Chappell (-5), Dawie van der Walt (-5), Daniel Berger (-4), John Senden (-4), Tim Wilkinson (-4)

What it means: Low scores are typically hard to come by at Quail Hollow, but Wheatcroft and Loupe played together during the opening round and carded matching scores of 7-under 65. It gave them a share of the lead as each looks for his first PGA Tour win, while Lahiri lurks just one shot off the pace and Berger, the reigning Rookie of the Year, headlines the group three shots back.

Round of the day: Wheatcroft crushed the par-5s during his opening round, making two eagles to go along with two birdies. He only needed to play the other 14 holes in 1 under to move to the top of the standings and card his lowest round of the season. It comes at the right time for Wheatcroft, who has made nine of 15 cuts this season but hasn’t finished better than last week’s T-36 in New Orleans.

Best of the rest: Loupe was a former standout at LSU, and he posted a career-best T-3 finish earlier this year in Palm Springs. He’s again on the leaderboard after a 65 that included seven birdies without a single bogey, highlighted by a run of four birdies in six holes on Nos. 4-9 en route to an outward nine of 31.

Biggest disappointment: Rory McIlroy torched Quail Hollow last year en route to a seven-shot victory, but he found things decidedly more difficult this time around. McIlroy was sluggish out of the gates, making the turn in 4-over 40. While he rallied down the stretch to shoot a 1-over 73, he still trails by eight shots after the opening round and is in danger of a surprising missed cut.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Forget the names at the top, the focus will be on the big names with work to do. Former champs McIlroy and Rickie Fowler (71) will be out in the late wave, while perennial contender Phil Mickelson will look to make up ground in the morning after posting a 3-under 69, his 20th career round in the 60s at Quail Hollow.

Shot of the day: Wheatcroft was short and right of the green on the par-5 fifth hole, but he promptly holed his pitch from 43 yards for eagle. He then added another eagle on the par-5 10th after hitting his approach from 279 yards to within 6 feet of the hole.

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