Patrick Reed ran off five-straight birdies in the middle of his round to finish with a bogey-free 9-under 63 to tie his career low and lead after the first round of the Humana Challenge on Thursday.
“The course is in perfect shape,” said Reed, the Wyndham Championship winner in August. “The rough isn’t very high, the fairways are perfect and the greens are rolling very true. That’s the main thing to being successful out here is with how great the conditions are, that if you’re hitting putts on line, they’re going to go in, no matter what.”
Ryan Palmer, Justin Hicks, Daniel Summerhays and Charley Hoffman shot 64.
Reed started on the back nine on PGA West’s Arnold Palmer Private Course and birdied holes 16 to 18 and 1 and 2 to get to 7-under. He added birdies on holes 6 and 7.
“I started out a little struggling with the driver, had some lefts in it, but luckily I missed it in the right spots,” Reed said. “I was really confident with my irons, kept hitting greens and all of a sudden, 10, 12, 15, 20-foot putts started going in.”
With wife Justine pregnant with their first child, her brother, Kessler Karain, is subbing as Reed’s caddie. Justine has walked every hole with her husband this year and plans to rejoin him inside the ropes after the baby girl arrives. The due date is Memorial Day, May 26.
“We can’t wait for that,” Reed said. “I’m excited to be a dad.”
Palmer birdied his final six holes and nine of his last 12 on the Palmer course, the site of the final round tomorrow.
“I wasn’t making a whole lot of long putts, just hitting it close,” Moore said.
Hicks had an eagle, seven birdies and a bogey on the Jack Nicklaus Private Course.
“Trying to give myself as many opportunities as I can,” Hicks said.
Summerhays birdied seven of his last 10 holes on the Nicklaus course.Hoffman, the 2007 winner, had an eagle and six birdies at La Quinta Country Club.
With a high temperature of about 30oC and only a gentle morning breeze off the Santa Rosa Mountains, the players averaged 69.692 on the Palmer course, 69.431 on the Nicklaus layout and 70.192 at La Quinta.
Kapalua winner Zach Johnson topped the group at 65. He played at La Quinta.
“The greens over there are ... like carpet,” Johnson said. “I mean, they’re just so good. I don’t know what they do over there, but they look artificial.”
Johnson won the Tournament of Champions at Kapalua two weeks ago for his 11th PGA Tour victory. Dating to his rookie season in 2004, only Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh have more tour wins.
“It means that I’m doing something right,” Johnson said. “It means I’ve got a great team... I’m always trying to improve.”
The top-ranked player in the field at No. 6, Johnson has three worldwide wins in his last seven starts. He began the run in the BMW Championship outside Chicago in September last year, and beat Woods in a playoff last month in the World Challenge.
Keegan Bradley opened with a 69 at La Quinta in his first start of the year. He is fighting a cold and struggled with his distance control and accuracy.
“I’m still a little tired. Getting better every day,” said Bradley, paired with Johnson the first three days. “I’m happy with today’s round for the first round of the year.”
Defending champion Brian Gay also had a 69 at La Quinta.