12:30 update at Riviera: Kuchar steams in with a 7-under 64 for first break lead

Matt Kuchar drilled seven birdies — including three to start the round — and went bogey-free to grab the lead after the morning group at the Northern Trust Open, taming the Riviera Country Club. His a 7-under 64 was a two-shot edge over UCLA grad Brandt Jobe.

Kuchar nailed his first birdie putts all within four feet to start the surge at four-under at the turn. He registered birdies at the 16th and 17th before a par at No. 18.

The 64 is one off the all-time tournament record for best round to open the event. Five others have had a 63, the last time accomplished by Phil Mickelson in 2009. Kuchar’s best previous round at Riviera was a 66 on the last day of the 2010 event, which vaulted him into a tie for 20th. His best finish at Riviera was a tie for 14th in 2008.

He’s opened with a 69 in his last three appearances at the Northern Trust Open.

Kuchar said a recent trip to Hawaii with his family helped him relax and get his mind at ease before returning to the tour. He tied for fifth at the Sony Open among the three events he’s played in 2013.

Kuchar birdied the difficult No. 10 en route to his 33 on the back nine.

Jobe, who started with the first group at 6:40 a.m., finished his round at five-under 71 and is tied with David Lynn at the moment for second. Lynn, who started at the 10th hole, made three birdies on his back nine out of his first six holes.

Jobe said it was so dark on the practice range before his round he couldn’t see what he was hitting. His first drive on No. 1 was something he couldn’t even follow.

“I didn’t even know if it was in the fairway,” he said, adding that it wasn’t. “The sun wasn’t even up when we teed off. I don’t know that I saw a putt from 15 feet.

“It’s so wet and cold and the ball isn’t going anywhere at that time. I don’t think I’ve ever played a round so early.”

Defending champion Bill Haas finished with a one-under 70, while his threesome partners of Keegan Bradely and Mickelson were even 71.

Mickelson started at 7 a.m., saying it was “freezing cold” as he started at No. 10, which he none-the-less birdied. He bogeyed the next two.

Rob Streb, who made the field after an open qualifying round on Monday, is at four-under, which included an eagle at No. 1. He is through 15 sitting alone in fourth place.

Fred Couples finished with a three-under 68 to put himself among a group that includes Pat Perez, Jim Furyk and Lee Westwood in the fourth position.

Expect scores to get even lower as the afternoon warms up. Many spectators in the crowd were comfortable in T-shirts and shorts as the sun came out strong at about 10 a.m. Sergia Garcia, for example, had a noon tee off at No. 10 and birdied his first three holes to immediately go three under.

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11:20 update at Riviera: Jobe in at six-under 66

UCLA grad Brandt Jobe used four consecutive birdies on the 14th, 15th, 16th and 17th to pull into an early tie with early leader Matt Kuchar and finish his first round at the Northern Trust Open with a six-under 66 at Riviera Country Club today.

Jobe’s bogey at No. 18 — his only square number of the day, dropped him back with Kuchar at five-under. Kuchar, who started the day with three birdies, just finished the 15th hole.

Jobe, who missed the cut last year, was in the first group at 6:40 a.m. and fell two strokes behind Kuchar at the turn and to three back after he parred No. 10 and Kuchar birdied it.

Pat Perez is tied for third at 4 under after a birdie at 17.

Rob Streb, who made the field by winning an open qualifying round on Monday, is in a group at 3 under with Jim Furyk.

Half the field is almost finished playing the course, with the other 72 set to go off at 11:30 a.m. Included in that group is the threesome (at noon) of Luke Donald, Adam Scott and Graeme McDowell, followed by Dustin Johnson, Ernie Els and Webb Simpson. Both groups are off the first tee.

Going off on the 10th tee in the late morning are groups that include Sergio Garcia (noon, with Charl Schwartzel and Carl Pettersson) and Hunter Mahan (12:12 p.m.).

Coverage on Golf Channel begins live at noon.

 

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11 a.m. update from Riviera: Jobe jumps to the top

Brandt Jobe’s four consecutive birdies on the 14th, 15th, 16th and 17th sent him past early leader Matt Kuchar at six under during the first round of the Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club today.

Jobe, the 47-year-old UCLA grad who missed the cut last year, was two strokes behind Kuchar at the turn and fell to three back after he parred No. 10 and Kuchar birdied it. Jobe is two holes ahead of Kuchar on the course, having started in the first group at No. 1 at 6:40 a.m.

Pat Perez is tied for third at 3 under with Rob Streb, who made the field by winning an open qualifying round on Monday.

Fred Couples has slipped back to two under with a bogey 5 on No. 3. He is in a group that includes Jim Furyk, who birdied No. 14, and a pre-tournament favorite Jimmy Walker.

Phil Mickenson has two birdies and four pars on his back nine (holes 1-6) to lift himself up to minus-1 through 15. He is in a group with last year’s champ, Bill Haas (also minus-1) and Keegan Bradley (plus 1).

Half the field is almost finished playing the course, with the other 72 set to go off at 11:30 a.m. Included in that group is the threesome (at noon) of Luke Donald, Adam Scott and Graeme McDowell, followed by Dustin Johnson, Ernie Els and Webb Simpson. Both groups are off the first tee.

Going off on the 10th tee in the late morning are groups that include Sergio Garcia (noon, with Charl Schwartzel and Carl Pettersson) and Hunter Mahan (12:12 p.m.).

Coverage on Golf Channel begins live at noon.

 

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Early returns from Riviera: Kuchar out to a blazing start

Matt Kuchar started with three birdies to go out at four under, then birdied No. 10 and knocked in a par at 11 to take a two stroke lead in the Northern Trust Open this morning.

Brandt Jobe, who started in the first group at 6:40 a.m., just birdied No. 14 and is two strokes back with a group that includes Fred Couples.

Couples started at No. 10 and was one over after his first two holes but birdied Nos. 14, 17 and, to the roar of the crowd, 18 before making the turn with another birdie at No. 1.

Phil Mickelson, who teed off at No. 10 with Keegan Bradley and defending champ Bill Haas at 7:11 a.m., is even after 12 holes. Haas is two under despite a bogey 5 at the par 4 No. 2 and No. 3 coming back. 

 

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