Patrick Cantlay makes another fast start at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am: Can he last the pace?

The American has a tournament history of bursting from the blocks and then fading.

In the first round of the AT&T Classic Pebble Beach Pro-Am Patrick Cantlay maintained one long-standing trend and his job for the rest of the week is simple: cut all links with another equally entrenched pattern.

As highlighted by Dave Tindall on Wednesday, Cantlay is traditionally superb in the first round of this tournament. In fact, ahead of this week, he was a combined 26-under par on the first circuit.

But he's then 4-under in the second, 3-under in the third and 9-under in the fourth round.

So his 6-under 65 at Monterey Peninsula on Thursday was entirely in keeping with the past, an effort that left him tied fifth with Andrew Putnam on the leaderboard.

Tom Hoge leads following a 9-under 63 at Pebble Beach, Seamus Power is second after an 8-under 84 at Spyglass Hill, with Jonas Blixt (64, Monterey Peninsula) and Austin Smotherman (65, Pebble Beach) sharing third.

Cantlay's lap saw him make early in-roads (three birdies in the first six holes), then stumble (bogeys at seven and eight), before he raced home with five par breakers on the back nine (including a hat trick at 16, 17 and 18).

"Started off strong, weird middle and then closed really strong," was the American's post-round report. "Finishing with three in a row on this golf course is a really nice finish and I'm happy with my start for the week."

In spite of his history of fading through the week, Cantlay's record is still strong in the event. He's never missed a cut in five visits, with three finishes of T11th or better. The secret? He's in a happy place.

"I like the three golf courses, especially Pebble and Spyglass," he said. "I definitely remember just being enthralled with the views (the first time I came). I had never seen anything even remotely close.

"I remember getting to the 7th green (at Pebble) and just being blown away. I still have a little bit of that today because it's such a breathtaking place."

Now the reigning FedExCup champion, and fresh off his peers voting him Player of the Year, Cantlay's confidence has surely never been higher.

Might this be the year that he stays with the leaders after the first lap? He'll hope so and hope, too, that there is no repeat of the last pro-am he played on three courses.

At The American Express last month he shared the lead through 18 and 36 holes before slipping back into a tie for ninth.

The memory of that could either spook him, or prompt the determination to get over the line first.

Power base

Ireland's Seamus Power great start was a triumph of current form over course and condition form.

Heading into this week he had made 15 of his last 17 cuts, landing no less than 13 top 15 finishes in that stretch. Moreover, he had also finished top 15 in each of his previous four starts.

Contrast that with his record on Poa Annua grass in California. In those distinct conditions he had made just three cuts in 13 starts with a best finish of T38th.

And what of his tournament record? Four starts, two cuts made, not top 30, only one sub-70 lap in 13.

Whereupon he thrashed an 8-under-par 64 at Spyglass Hill, closing his day with four birdies in a row from the sixth.

"I know this place always plays the hardest but I've always really enjoyed playing Spyglass," he said afterwards. "It kind of suits my eye and the game feels in good shape so I was like, why not?

Of the challenge through the rest of the week he added: "It's always funny with the three courses. Obviously it's great to have a good start but you're on to a completely different challenge.

"Tomorrow I'm playing Pebble and it's going to be a completely different course to today. So kind of makes it easier to reset and so hopefully we can kind of keep doing the same thing tomorrow."

Oh the Hoge cokey

Tom Hoge is in the invidious position of being a frequent contender, but that position only allows everyone to point out how he still hasn't won.

He's playing in his 203rd event on the PGA Tour and has made 17 top 10s. This is his first solo first round lead, but he has six times shared the early advantage.

In his last four starts he has twice been on the front page of the leaderboard all week. He was top 10 through all four rounds at the RSM Classic at the end of last year and then top five all week in The American Express last month.

He bested Power in finishing his opening round out with six birdies on the bounce - and at the host course too.

"It's hard to be in a bad mood out there," he said. "I mean, Pebble Beach and perfect weather is about as good as it gets. It was a lot of fun and I feel like I've been playing well.

"I've been excited to get out here on the golf course and feel like at Pebble Beach is a golf course that suits me well."

The challenge of keeping his foot down in the chase for low scores on new courses is not one that scares him.

"I was kind of in the situation a couple weeks ago in Palm Springs (at The Amex)," he said. "Scores were a little bit better there, but you keep switching golf courses and you feel like you got to keep making birdies the whole way, so I know that I've got to keep moving forward.

"And Monterey's very score-able tomorrow, so I hope to keep it going."

READ MORE: Spotlight on: Patrick Cantlay hoping for home win at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am

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