(Reuters) - Patrick Reed made up for some wayward driving with a sizzling putting display in dazzling sunshine to charge into a one-shot lead in Thursday’s opening round of the $5.7 million Humana Challenge at La Quinta, California.
The 23-year-old American took advantage of ideal scoring conditions in the California desert as he fired a flawless nine-under-par 63 on the Arnold Palmer Private course at PGA West, one of three venues hosting the pro-am event.
Reed piled up nine birdies and totaled only 27 putts to finish a picture-perfect day with barely a breath of wind one stroke in front of fellow Americans Ryan Palmer, Justin Hicks, Daniel Summerhays and 2007 champion Charley Hoffman.
“Even though I didn’t hit many fairways, I kept it in play and that’s the main thing around this golf course,” Texan Reed told Golf Channel after taking control of the PGA Tour event.
“And then whenever I was on the green, it was one of those days when everything I read was the right line, I hit the line every time and I got hot with the putter.
“When any guy out here gets hot with the putter, they’re going to be able to shoot a low number,” said Reed, who won his maiden PGA Tour title at last year’s Wyndham Championship where he beat rookie sensation Jordan Spieth in a playoff.
Reed’s wife Justine is expecting the couple’s first child, a baby girl, in May and has handed over her usual caddying duties for her husband to her brother, Kessler Karain.
Palmer also started out on the Palmer layout on Thursday, Hicks and Daniel Summerhays played on the Nicklaus Private at PGA West and Hoffman launched his title bid at La Quinta Country Club.
“It was a little interesting,” said three-time PGA Tour winner Palmer, who recorded two bogeys in his first six holes before stunningly ending his round with six successive birdies.
“I guess you could say I slept walked the first six holes. I hit some good shots, just couldn’t get a putt to go in.
“After bogeying six, I hit a great nine-iron on seven to about three feet which kind of jump-started my round. And then on 14, I just exploded. I hit it close pretty much every hole. That was a fun start.”
American world number six Zach Johnson, who clinched his 11th PGA Tour victory at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Hawaii 10 days ago, and Scotland’s Russell Knox were among seven players who opened with 65s.
Brandt Snedeker, the 2012 FedExCup champion, carded a 72 in his first PGA Tour start of the year while fellow American Brian Gay, who won last year’s Humana Challenge in a three-way playoff, launched his title defense with a 69 at La Quinta.
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue