Flawless Kuchar takes control at Riviera

Thu Feb 14, 2013 9:55pm EST
 
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

PACIFIC PALISADES, California (Reuters) - Matt Kuchar, revitalized after a three-week break, took advantage of ideal early scoring conditions to charge into a one-shot lead in the first round of the Northern Trust Open on Thursday.

With hardly a breath of wind on a glorious morning 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 to finish one ahead of Spaniard Sergio Garcia, who carded a 65 late in the day as fog began to roll across the course.

Play was eventually suspended in fading light with 18 players yet to complete the opening round.

"It was a great day," four-times PGA Tour winner Kuchar, 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.

"Just drove it well today which is a big key around here. The greens are pretty tricky and pretty firm this year so coming out of the rough, it's difficult to get a ball to stop close to the hole."

Garcia, making his first appearance of the year on the PGA Tour, was delighted with his round which, like Kuchar's, featured birdies on his first three holes.   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