Farragut, Tenn.--(Web.com Tour/WVLT) Matt Fast celebrated the 25th anniversary of the News Sentinel Open presented by Pilot with three consecutive birdies to finish his round. The former Mississippi State Bulldog fired a bogey-free 65 Thursday morning at Fox Den Country Club and is joined at the top of the leaderboard by Martin Piller.
Local favorite Brandon Bunn, Cory Whitsett, Ryan Spears, Sung Joon Park and Monday qualifier Brandon Brown posted five-under 66.
Ten players are two-strokes back including two-time News Sentinel Open champion Hunter Haas.
Fast hasn’t been playing well this year so this round may come as a surprise to many but not him. The Jackson, Mississippi resident found something during the week of the Stonebrae Classic that has improved his short iron play. Fast missed the cut there but the swing thought has carried over to this week. The 27-year-old pro hit 16 of 18 greens on Thursday which resulted in his lowest first-round score this season. Fast he can continue to hit the ball like that the rest of the week. “I’m playing good,” he said. “You’re just trying to put 72 good holes together.”
If Fast can perform well the rest of the week it could go a long way to saving his season. The Louisiana native currently sits outside the top 75 on the money list and has had to change his goals from trying to finish top-25 at the end of the Web.com Tour Regular Season to finishing high enough to qualify for the Finals.
Former Vols David Skinns and Phillip Pettit are four shots back at -2, while former UT standout and Masters low amateur this year, Oliver Goss, has some work to do after firing a first round 75.