Fort Wayne, IN (SportsNetwork.com) - Ryan Blaum fired an 8-under 64 on Thursday and grabbed a 1-stroke lead after the opening round of the Hotel Fitness Championship.
Blaum had just one top-10 finish this season at the Rex Hospital Open, where he finished seventh. He is winless on the Web.com Tour.
Two-time Web.com Tour winner Greg Chalmers and Tom Hoge share second place at minus-7 at Sycamore Hills Golf Club.
Dicky Pride, the 1994 St. Jude Classic winner, posted a 6-under 66 in round one. He was joined in fourth place by Sam Saunders, Tony Finau, Derek Fathauer and Bud Cauley.
Vaughn Taylor, who has two PGA Tour wins, posted a 5-under 67. He is one of nine players tied for ninth.
Former Masters winner and defending champion Trevor Immelman managed a 1-under 71 and he is tied for 57th.
Blaum started his day with a birdie on the par-5 second. After three pars in a row, he converted back-to-back birdie chances from the sixth.
The 30-year-old birdied the ninth en route to making the turn at minus-4. He made it two in a row with a birdie on No. 10.
Blaum, who is playing in his 10th straight tour event, got within one of the lead as he birdied the par-5 12th. He later birdied the next par-5, the 15th. Blaum rolled in a birdie effort from the fringe at No. 16 to move one clear of the field. He parred the final two holes to grab the first-round lead.
"It was a really hard putt. It was one I could have easily knocked off the green," Blaum said of the 13th, where he 2-putted for par from 100 feet out.
Chalmers flew out of the gate with three birdies in the first four holes. He dropped in a birdie effort on the par-3 seventh to get to 4-under.
After four pars in a row, Chalmers poured in three consecutive birdie chances from the 12th to soar into the early lead at minus-7. He parred the last four to end there.
"It's out there if you drive it in play. I think making birdies on three of the par-3s out here was a solid effort," said Chalmers. "I'm more excited about the fact that this is the lowest round I've shot in a little while. It hasn't been the best year for me."
Hoge played the back nine first on Thursday and he started with birdies on the 10th and 12th. Following a bogey on the par-4 13th, Hoge parred his next four holes.
The 25-year-old birdied the 18th to get back to minus-2. Around the turn, he birdied the second and jumped to 5-under with an eagle at the fifth.
Hoge followed his eagle with a birdie on the sixth. He closed his round with a birdie on No. 9 to gain a share of second place.
NOTES: Blaum's seventh place finish at the Rex Hospital Open was his first in 38 career Web.com Tour starts ... Blaum topped the PGA Tour LatinoAmerica Order of Merit in 2013 ... Stonebrae Classic winner Tony Finau fired an 8- under 28 on the front nine ... Tommy Gainey withdrew after his first round with a recurring right elbow injury.