Qualifier Peter Kuest had an impressive start to the Rocket Mortgage Classic, carding an 8-under par round of 64 to share the lead with Taylor Moore after the first round. Kuest’s round looked like it would give him the outright lead, but Moore managed to pull even with a birdie on the 17th hole. Moore narrowly missed tying the course record with a birdie attempt on the 18th hole.
Scoring was exceptionally low at the Detroit Golf Club, but it was Kuest and Moore who went the lowest. Kuest, who had to play his way into the field on Monday, offset a lone bogey with nine birdies, including an impressive 6-under 30 on the front nine. He is hoping to become the first Monday qualifier to win on the PGA Tour since Corey Conners at the 2021 Valero Texas Open.
Reflecting on his performance, Kuest said, “It feels good. We’ve got another round tomorrow so we’re going to get ready for that and then just take it one step at a time.” He also mentioned that if he hadn’t made it through the Monday qualifier, he would have been fishing back home in Utah.
Kuest is currently ranked 789th in the Official World Golf Ranking and holds Korn Ferry Tour status. Despite not getting into an event yet, he has been participating in Monday Qualifiers and also posted a T14 finish on a sponsor’s exemption at the Byron Nelson in June. Kuest’s journey on the PGA Tour has been a learning experience, and he described it as a “fun ride.”
Moore, on the other hand, came close to tying the course record. The Valspar Championship winner had missed his past three cuts, so his strong performance at the Rocket Mortgage Classic was a positive sign for him. Moore finished sixth in Detroit last year, and he expressed his satisfaction, saying, “With the current state of my game, I’ve kind of been stuck in neutral, so this has been really good for me to see.”
Among the contenders at 7 under were rookies Ludvig Aberg and Sam Bennett, along with Dylan Wu, who had a pair of eagles during his round. Aberg had an impressive round, hitting every fairway and at least 17 greens, something that hasn’t been seen on the PGA Tour since Jon Rahm in this year’s Masters.
Collin Morikawa, aiming to win in his tournament debut for the fifth time in his career, sits one shot back at 6 under. Rickie Fowler, who reached 7 under during his morning round, bogeyed his final two holes and dropped back to 5 under.
The reigning champion, Tony Finau, had a challenging round, struggling to an even-par round of 72 with four pars and four bogeys. However, his performance was still significantly better than Hideki Matsuyama and Justin Thomas. Matsuyama, the former Masters champion, opened with a 3-over 75, while Thomas finished better than only three players in the field with a 4-over score.
Thomas added the Rocket Mortgage Classic to his schedule in his quest to secure a spot in the FedEx Cup Playoffs, as he currently ranks 66th in the standings. Only the top 70 players qualify for the first leg of the playoffs. After a promising T9 finish last week, Thomas started his round with a birdie but struggled in his final 14 holes, going 4 over.
As the tournament progresses, Kuest and Moore will look to maintain their strong start and hold on to the lead, while other players aim to make their moves up the leaderboard. The Rocket Mortgage Classic promises an exciting weekend of golf.