Brendan Steele finished with four straight birdies and shot a 6-under 64 on Thursday to take the lead in the first round of the PGA Tour’s Zozo Championship.

“Everyone says if you birdie 18, dinner tastes better,” Steele said. “But four in a row is definitely, really nice and feels good.”

It was a happy return to Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club, where Steele was runner-up a year ago in the same tournament behind winner Hideki Matsuyama.

“I love being here,” Steele said. “I loved last year’s course, very happy to be back.”

The Zozo Championship is the only PGA Tour event in Japan and has a purse of $11 million. There are no COVID-19 crowd limit restrictions in effect this year.

“It’s nice for us to be able to get out of the hotel a little bit this year and enjoy a little bit of the culture,” Steele said. “So I really enjoyed it.”

It was a great day for other Americans as well.

Adam Schenk was shot after a 65 on a rainy day in the countryside outside Tokyo. Sam Ryder, Matthew NeSmith and Keegan Bradley were two back.

Three more Americans were three behind: Rickie Fowler, Xander Schauffele and Maverick McNealy.

Defending champion Matsuyama, who won by five strokes a year ago, got off to a slow start before a home crowd with a 71.

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