Northern Trust Open 2013: Day 1 Leaderboard Analysis, Highlights and More
With ideal golfing conditions, the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, California was relatively defenseless as the pros strutted their stuff in the first round of the Northern Trust Open.
Matt Kuchar led the way with a brilliant round of 64, which is good for seven-under on the par-71 course. Last year, Phil Mickelson, Keegan Bradley and Bill Haas entered a playoff after finishing tied for first at seven-under (Haas eventually won).
So let's check out the day's lowest scores, and then we'll recap the action.
Round 1 Leaderboard
There are 11 players tied for seventh at three-under. You can view the full leaderboard on PGATour.com.
Kuchar was at his best on Thursday. He was striking the ball well and playing with precision. You can get a feel for that with this wonderful approach and easy putt for birdie on the par-five 17th hole.
That was one of Kuchar's seven birdies on the day, and he did not suffer a single bogey. He wasted no time attacking this course as he birdied his first three holes.
Kuchar was on point all day, and he drilled a remarkable 15-out-of-18 greens in regulation. He hasn't played since the Humana Challenge, which concluded on Jan. 20, but he has shown solid form in this young season.
In his three tournaments this year, Kuchar has a fifth, ninth and 16th place finish under his belt. With his consistency and savvy, he could definitely take a wire-to-wire win here.
However, it is worth noting that he hasn't had much success at this event as he has never finished inside the top 10.
Kuchar also has a hot Sergio Garcia right on his heels.
The Spaniard was at his ball-striking best on Thursday. He notched seven birdies and just one bogey. If Garcia can keep his short game consistent, he is going to be very tough to beat.
Of the players in the hunt, one name immediately jumps out: Fred Couples. Freddie loves the Riviera Country Club. The 53-year-old is a two-time Northern Trust Open winner, and he was in great form on Thursday.
He almost carded an eagle on No. 1.
Couples ended the day at three-under, and that would have been even better had he been able to avoid either of his two bogeys.
It isn't likely that Couples can swing together four rounds solid enough to take the title, but it will be fun to watch him try.
Meanwhile, in what was otherwise a fairly unimpressive day of play for Luke Donald, this spectacular flop shot on No. 10 deserves a shout out.
That was a good enough for an eagle. Donald finished the day at two-under.
As for the three players who decided this tournament in a playoff last year? They were all paired together, and they all struggled.
Haas had the best day of the three at one-under. Mickelson and Bradley both struggled with even par 71s.
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