Kuchar in early control at sunny Riviera
By Mark Lamport-Stokes
PACIFIC PALISADES, California (Reuters) - Matt Kuchar, revitalized after a three-week break, took advantage of ideal scoring conditions to charge into an early two-shot lead in the first round of the Northern Trust Open on Thursday.
With hardly a breath of wind on a glorious day of unbroken sunshine at Riviera Country Club, the 34-year-old American fired a flawless seven-under-par 64 to take control of the PGA Tour event.
Kuchar made a sizzling start with birdies on his first three holes and picked up four more shots to finish two ahead of compatriot Brandt Jobe, who is playing the tour on a medical exemption this year due to a herniated disc.
Briton David Lynn and American rookie James Hahn opened with 67s while Riviera fan favorite Fred Couples, a twice champion who is competing in the event for a record 31st time, was among a group of seven players knotted on 68.
Among those at three under were British world number eight Lee Westwood, American veteran Jim Furyk and Swede Fredrik Jacobson.
Kuchar, who has a surprisingly low-key record at Riviera where he has always relished playing, was delighted with his opening round.
"It was a great day," the four-times PGA Tour winner, who has spent the last three weeks in Palm Springs and Hawaii on a family holiday, told reporters with a smile.
"It's always fun to have bogey-free days, especially around this golf course. I got off to a great start, birdied my first three and all three were kick-in birdies, all within probably four feet. Continued...