Kuchar in early control at sunny Riviera

Thu Feb 14, 2013 5:38pm EST
 

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...

 
Matt Kuchar of the U.S. chips onto the fourth green during the third round of the Sony Open golf tournament in Honolulu, Hawaii January 12, 2013. REUTERS/Hugh Gentry