But by then, his putter was betraying him. He missed an 81/2-footer for birdie on the fifth and a 71/2-footer on the ninth, and then the disasters really hit.
On the par-5 12th, the easiest hole this week, he three-putted on a tricky uphill track, missing the 6-foot par putt.
On the next hole, his tournament hopes went up the creek. Not literally, but close - he pulled his tee shot into the brush lining the creek on the left. He took a stroke penalty from the lateral hazard and had 43 feet to save a par. He was close, but it still hurt.
And it hurt even more when he flew the green on his approach to the par-4 14th. He also missed a 4-foot putt to bogey the 16th.
At the turn, he had gone 50 consecutive holes without a bogey.
"I don't think it was a mental thing," he said. "I felt really comfortable. I just made a couple of bad swings and judged the wind wrong a bunch of times, it seemed like.
"So it was just one of those unfortunate nine holes where all week everything had been going right, and in nine holes everything couldn't have gone worse."
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, dougsm...@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.