Indian golfers were to the fore as Arjun Atwal, coming into the field through the on Monday qualifier, shot a tournament record nine-under 61 at the Sedgefield Country Club in the Wyndham Championship.
He opened up a two-shot lead while fellow Indian, Jeev Milkha Singh brought in a six-under 64 to be tied third here Thursday.
Atwal, who lost his Tour card last month and had to come through the Monday qualifier, matched a two-year tournament record in the final tournament before the Playoffs for the FedExCup.
Brandt Snedeker shot a 63. Jeev Milkha, John Rollins, Kevin Streelman, Lucas Glover, Boo Weekley and David Toms were at 64 on an occasionally wet day when the greens were soft.
Atwal started his bogey-free round on the back nine, made the turn at 4 under and birdied three of his final four holes, sinking a seven-foot putt on No. 9 to round off the day. He also had a chip-in birdie on the par-4 sixth. His big day also included a rare birdie on the tough 18th hole, which saw just 10 birdies but 54 bogeys during the day.
Jeev, who also started on the tenth, birdied six of the last 12 holes, including a hat-trick from third to fifth. He birdied 16th, 17th, third, fourth, fifth and eighth and had no bogeys.
Atwal, who was sixth at the same tournament in 2004, when it was held at the Forest Oaks Country Club, shared the first place in the qualifiers by shooting 67. No Monday qualifier has won a PGA Tour tournament since Fred Wadsworth did it at the 1986 Southern Open.
"You get used to making a lot of birdies in the Monday qualifier -- otherwise you won't make it," Atwal said. "I kind of continued that today."
"I didn't really expect a 61 today," Atwal said. "I was expecting to play well, because I've been swinging the club nicely, but 61 is pretty special. There was no wind, the greens were soft - all you had to do was hit fairways and it was go from there. I saw some of the scoring from the morning and even though it was raining, those guys were still taking it deep, so I knew the course was playing pretty easy."
Atwal, who injured his shoulder while lifting weights last year, played on a minor medical exemption. He then lost his card this year as he came up short on the money list in the eight starts he was allowed.
Atwal will not be eligible for the Playoffs even if he wins. But he can claim his card for 2011 with a victory -- either in Greensboro or a Fall Series tournament -- or a climb up the money lists of the PGA TOUR or Nationwide Tour.
"I prefer to win," Atwal said with a laugh. "If I win, I'll go take a month off."