Brian Harman loved the old Colonial Country Club, but that didn’t slow him down on Thursday at Charles Schwab Challenge 2024

FORT WORTH, Texas — With the way he saunters around a golf course, easy and consistent, it’s not surprising to hear that Brian Harman’s love for Colonial Country Club was rooted in its Texas charm, a mix of blazing heat and old Southern traditions.

After a significant renovation by the design team of Gil Hanse and Jim Wagner, “Hogan’s Alley” has a modernized feel for the Charles Schwab Challenge this year, with fresher fairways and firmer greens.

But as much as Harman loved the classic course, his unflappable personality shined through on Thursday during the event’s opening round, as the University of Georgia product proved he can learn on the fly and put a couple of near-misses behind him. En route, he shot a 66 to find a tie atop the leaderboard at the end of the early wave of play, positioning himself nicely in a field that includes world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler, Jordan Spieth, Max Homa, Collin Morikawa, Tony Finau, and Sungjae Im.

And his quick start was a fact not lost on the lefty, who entered play on Thursday with just one opening round under 69 this year, that coming in the season-opening Sentry back in January.

In fact, Harman hasn’t broken 70 in the opening round of his last seven events, including this year’s Masters, where he opened with an 81. Even at the Players, an event in which he tied for second, Harman struggled through a 72 in the first round of action.

At the new Colonial, however, Harman rolled off four birdies in his first eight holes before cooling on his final nine. He had a pair of birdie putts just miss on his second nine that would have put a little distance between him and others who shined in the early wave like S.H. Kim, Martin Laird, Davis Riley and Tony Finau, all of whom also finished with rounds of 66.

Still, with a bogey-free day in his back pocket, the 2023 Open Championship winner was happy with where he sat after Thursday’s action.

“I made a couple really nice up-and-downs for par as well. So I feel like that stuff kind of evens itself out. I just try to keep executing and my game feels really, really good right now,” Harman said. “I haven’t had the results that I feel like that I probably should have the last few weeks, but I’m playing some pretty good golf and it was nice to get off to a good start.”

Of course, part of the reason Harman was keen on keeping the old course untouched was his success here. In 11 previous starts, Harman has six top-25 finishes and three times has cracked the top 10.

His original reaction to the changes was positive, though. The course was founded in 1936 and hosted the 1941 U.S. Open. The renovation put an emphasis on returning the space to something that closely resembles what the original design team of John Bredemus and Perry Maxwell first sculpted.

“The fear when you redo an iconic place like this is that they mess it up and I feel pretty confident saying that they didn’t mess it up,” he said. “Now the course needs time to mature, the grass really isn’t quite where it needs to be yet, it just, it takes a long time for those roots to get their structure and for everything to settle down. I’m going to hold off judgment for another couple years probably on how I think about it, but I don’t think they messed it up. I think they did a pretty good job.

“I loved the old course so much, I had so many laps around this place, it’s one that I always had circled. I felt like I had a little bit of knowledge, especially on the younger guys trying to play Colonial for the first couple times. But, yeah, we’re all on the same footing now, but I feel like the essence of the course is still the same.”

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek