Matt Kuchar holds a three-stroke lead over five golfers entering Friday’s second round of the $9.3 million The Genesis Invitational at The Riviera Country Club after firing a bogey-free 7-under-par 64.
Tiger Woods is among 16 golfers five strokes off the lead in his second attempt to become the PGA Tour’s winningest player. Woods began his round Thursday with an eagle on the first hole, en route to a 4-under-par 31 on the front nine. He played the back nine at 2-over with bogeys on the par-5 12th and 18th holes to complete the round at 2-under-par 69.
The 41-year-old Kuchar tied his low 18-hole score in his 11 appearances at The Genesis Invitational. He started his round on the 10th hole and birdied three of his first four holes. He added a birdie on the 18th hole for a 4-under 32 on the back nine, the lowest nine-hole score on Riviera’s back nine.
Kuchar had his fifth birdie of the round on the first hole. He also had birdies on the fifth and eighth holes.
“It was a fun, fun day out there playing Riviera,” said Kuchar, a nine-time winner on the PGA Tour, most recently in the 2019 Sony Open in Hawaii. “I got off to a great start. You’ve got a couple holes you want to take advantage of, but you never know.
“I started on 10 today and 10’s one of those funny ones. I think if you play four rounds of even par, you’ve done well. I happened to hit a perfect drive just on the fringe of the green and was able to two-putt for birdie. Birdied 11 and that was just a nice way to start the day.”
The three-stroke lead in the largest first-round margin at The Genesis Invitational since 2016 when Camilo Villegas led by three strokes over three players. Villegas finished in a tie for 37th, 11 strokes behind champion Bubba Watson.
Americans Wyndham Clark, Russell Henley, Adam Schenk, Harold Varner III and South Korean Kyoung-Hoon Lee are tied for second at four-under-par 67, three strokes off the lead. Ten golfers are four strokes off the lead, including Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, the world’s top-ranked player.
McIlroy began his round at 7:15 a.m. on the 10th hole after waking up at 4:15 a.m. He had two eagles in three holes, the 17th and first, the fifth time he has made two eagles in a round on the PGA Tour.
McIlroy bogeyed the 18th and 12th holes and birdied the fifth.
On a day the PGA Tour honored the late Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant by dedicating the eighth hole to him with a purple-and-gold tee sign, the team’s colors, Woods sunk a 24-foot, 8-inch putt, the numbers Bryant wore during his 20-season NBA career, for an eagle on the first hole. It was the second time since 2003 he started a tournament with an eagle.
Woods also birdied the eighth hole. He called it “very ironic that I happened to have those numbers on those holes and those exact measurements.”
Woods, the tournament host, said he hasn’t “had a whole lot of time to practice this week,” including not going to the driving range until Wednesday “and that was for about 10 minutes and that was warming up for the pro-am.”
Woods is seeking to break his tie with the late Sam Snead with 82 victories on the PGA Tour. In his other attempt he was among six golfers tying for ninth, sixth strokes behind Australian Marc Leishman in the Farmers Insurance Open, which concluded Jan. 26.
Woods has never won in his 12 previous appearances at Riviera, 10 as a professional and two as a teenage amateur.
The field of 120 will be reduced to the top 65 plus ties following completion of the second round. The tournament is set to conclude Sunday with the winner receiving $1.674 million and the first SUV from Genesis, the GV80.
>> Want to read more stories like this? Get our Free Daily Newsletters Here!Follow us: