LOS ANGELES — For the second straight year, one man was greater than the others at Riviera Country Club. Last year it was J.B. Holmes and his 63. This year it’s Matt Kuchar and his 64.
Kuchar kept a clean card through his first 18 holes at Riv, carding seven birdies to push himself a full three shots clear of the entire field. Tiger Woods battled his way to a 2-under 69, playing the final 17 holes in even par after an eagle on the 1st. While they held the attention for much of the day, plenty of action took place elsewhere. Here’s what you missed on Day 1 at the Genesis Invitational.
Two eagles for Rory
The newly crowned No. 1 player in the world made a pair of eagles Thursday, making a 33-footer on 17 and, looping around to the front nine, smoothing in a 5-footer on the first. McIlroy finished strong, too, playing his final eight holes in one under to finish at three deep for the first round. He’ll get going again late Friday morning at 2:41 p.m ET.
Kobe Tributes Galore
With the PGA Tour visiting L.A. for the first time since Kobe Bryant’s recent passing, numerous players and brands have collaborated to pay tribute to one of the greatest basketball players of all-time. You had Justin Thomas with custom-detailed FootJoy shoes, Rory McIlroy with custom Kobe-themed headcovers, even Brooks Koepka with specially-designed shoes with “Mamba” inscribed on the bottom and side. The tournament itself even got involved by creating a Kobe-themed flag and tee sign on the 8th hole. Expect the tributes to continue throughout the weekend.
Lost Ball for Lefty
Phil Mickelson entered the week coming off back-to-back great performances, in the Middle East and up in Monterey at Pebble Beach. Through 11 holes, he was two under and among the leaders, but his home run swing on the par-4 3rd flew way up over the trees and into a dried-out barranca. It was ominous when there was no visible bounce, and a few minutes later the conclusion was worse: the ball went unfound by a group of nearly 100 people. Unfortunately for Phil, that meant a golf cart ride back to the tee box and eventually a double bogey. He ended up finishing at one over par.