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August 04, 2020

Justin Rose and Harold Varner III opened with seven-under 63s at the Charles Schwab Challenge as the PGA Tour season resumed.

Suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, the PGA Tour got back underway without fans in attendance in Texas.

Rose and Varner both produced bogey-free opening rounds featuring seven birdies to hold a share of the lead.

Starting on the back nine, 2018 champion Rose made four birdies on his first seven holes before three straight from the first hole.

Varner holed four birdies on the front nine to set up his round as the American shared a one-stroke lead with Rose.

Justin Thomas, Jhonattan Vegas, Abraham Ancer and Collin Morikawa are tied for third at six under.

Thomas, the world number four, also went through bogey-free to be in early contention for his second win of 2020.

On what is a congested leaderboard, a group of nine players are a shot further back, including Bryson DeChambeau, Tom Lehman, Jordan Spieth and Xander Schauffele.

Lehman, 61, became the oldest player since 1980 to shoot 65 or lower on the PGA Tour.

Spieth, who has fallen out of the world's top 50, holed five birdies on the back nine to climb into a tie for seventh.

Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka managed two-under 68s in their opening rounds.

Despite a two-over 72 to start the tournament, Sung Kang produced one of the shots of the day with a hole-in-one at the 13th.

Rory McIlroy is intending to play the first three tournaments back when the PGA Tour season resumes next month.

The season was suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has seen more than 298,000 deaths worldwide.

It is set to restart with the Charles Schwab Challenge on June 14 and McIlroy is planning to play that tournament, and the RBC Heritage and Travelers Championship.

"I guess I can't speak for everyone, but for me personally, I just want to get back out and play," McIlroy told the Golf Channel.

"So that's my plan, play the first three. I think it'll be nice to get back out there and play."

Players and caddies are expected to undergo plenty of coronavirus testing, plus medical questionnaires, temperature readings and nasal swabs.

McIlroy, the world number one who has posted top-five finishes in each of his four starts this year, backed the PGA Tour's protocols.

"Obviously we're going to have to take as many precautions as possible to be able to put Tour events on again, but I think the PGA Tour has got a very robust plan in place," he said.

"If they can execute it the right way, I see no reason why we can't start June 11. And if we do, I'll be ready to go in Fort Worth."

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