Mackenzie Hughes will take a one-shot lead into day two of the RSM Classic after carding a nine-under-par score of 61 on Thursday.
The Canadian is playing in just his fourth PGA Tour event since making the step up from the Web.com Tour last month, with his best finish to date coming when he tied for 13th at the recent Safeway Open.
The 25-year-old missed the cut at last week’s OHL Classic at Mayakoba, but he showed no signs of struggling at Sea Island Golf Club, as he carded nine birdies and no dropped shots to move to the top of the leaderboard.
At one stage Hughes harboured ambitions of shooting a sub-60 score in Georgia, but despite falling just short of that feat, the world number 287 insists he did not put himself under any extra pressure.
“I knew I was playing well so those thoughts didn’t seem to bother me that much,” Hughes told reporters.
“I just kind of tried to embrace it like it was a fun thing. It wasn’t like I was burdened by trying to shoot 59. I looked at it that way and it made things easier.”
Hughes is available at 26.00 to go on and win the RSM Classic and he remains confident that he can sustain a genuine challenge for overall glory this week.
“I know that my game is good enough to compete out there,” the Canadian added. “The biggest thing is just believing in it and having that comfort level.”
American duo Stewart Cink and Jonathan Byrd are Hughes’ nearest challengers on eight-under, while a group of four players, including Cameron Tringale and Hiroshi Iwata, are a shot further back.