Locals Varner, MacKenzie struggle in first round of Wells Fargo Championship

WILMINGTON (WNCT) – Former East Carolina star Harold Varner III and Greenville native Will MacKenzie both struggled in their first rounds at the Wells Fargo Championship. Varner played a morning round and shot 74. MacKenzie played later and shot 75.

First-Round Leaderboard

Francesco Molinari        66 (-6)

J.B. Holmes                  67 (-5)

Alex Noren                    67 (-5)

Brian Campbell              67 (-5)

Grayson Murray             67 (-5)


First-round lead notes

Derek Ernst (2013) and Jim Furyk (2006) are the only first-round leaders/co-leaders of the Wells Fargo Championship to hold on for the win.


The last winner of the Wells Fargo Championship who opened with a score in the 60s was Derek Ernst in 2013. J.B. Holmes (2014), Rory McIlroy (2015) and James Hahn (2016) each opened with rounds of 70 en route to their wins.


Four of the 24 first-round leaders/co-leaders on the PGA TOUR this season have been able to convert for the win in stroke-play events, but not since Justin Thomas went wire-to-wire at the Sony Open in Hawaii in January.


Francesco Molinari

Making just his second start at the Wells Fargo Championship (T17/2016), Italy’s Francesco Molinari chipped in for birdie from the intermediate rough at his last hole of the day, No. 18, to open with a 6-under 66. He made eight birdies and two bogeys.


Molinari has never been higher than T2 after 18 holes on the PGA TOUR before this week.


The lowest start by an eventual winner at the Wells Fargo Championship is 66 (-6) by Rickie Fowler at Quail Hollow in 2012.


Molinari is making his 12th start of the 2016-17 PGA TOUR Season, where he has made 10 of 11 cuts. His best finish of three top-10s is a T4 at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.


Molinari, who made a return to the PGA TOUR this season by virtue of a 111th-place finish on last year’s FedExCup points list, remains in search of his first career win on TOUR in his 99th start this week. His best finishes on TOUR, a pair of T3s, came at the 2011 World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship and 2015 Genesis Open.


Molinari is the winner of four international victories, including the 2010 WGC-HSBC Champions.

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