I got here into the 2020 Genesis Invitational extraordinarily enthusiastic about what the week held, and Day 1 was definitely not a disappointment. Tiger Woods flirted with the lead (we’ll get to that) and Rory McIlroy made two eagles (we’ll additionally get to that), however ultimately it is Matt Kuchar who leads a gaggle of stars and superstars after 18 holes at Riviera Nation Membership.
First place — Matt Kuchar (-7): Kuchar was flawless on Thursday as he posted a bogey-free 64 that was three higher than anybody else within the discipline. High 10 from tee to inexperienced. High 10 in placing. And a great distance from his journey right here final 12 months through which the El Tucan apology began. Kuchar has had a pleasant run at this course with top-30 finishes in every of the final 4 seasons, however now he has an actual probability to win for the third straight 12 months for the second time in his profession (he additionally gained in 2012, 2013 and 2014). Kuchar gained in Mayakoba in 2018, the Sony Open in 2019 and is now one of many two or three favorites (together with Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy) to win this one with 54 holes left.
Different contenders of be aware — Rory McIlroy (-3), Patrick Cantlay (-3), Jason Day (-3), Bryson DeChambeau (-3), Brooks Koepka (-2), Tiger Woods (-2), Jon Rahm (-2), Patrick Reed (-2): A lot of the massive canine coming on this week are both 4 or 5 again of Kuchar. There is a group simply behind the chief at four below, nevertheless it does not embrace any monster names. McIlroy in all probability has essentially the most juice presently out of this crew, and he made two eagles in three holes on Thursday (on Nos. 17 and 1). Every part is coming so simply for him proper now, and he stated after his spherical that he was happy with getting it to three below after taking part in the primary seven holes in 1 over. I believe the occasion comes down to 2 of those guys and Kuchar on Sunday.
What did Tiger Woods do? Properly, he jammed all the thrill into the primary gap. He eagled possibly the simplest par 5 on tour this season (see beneath), after which he performed the subsequent 17 holes in precisely even par to shoot a 2-under 69. His downside? Largely off the tee. Woods completed first within the discipline on strategy photographs and 118th (or practically final) off the tee. He misplaced three full strokes over the past 9 holes, and that features a ball that bounced off a tree and again into play on the par-5 11th gap. With the best way he is swinging his irons proper now, all he has to do is put it in play and he is an automated rating within the 60s.
Who had an incredible day? I am merely utilizing this house to remind everybody that Justin Rose was 40-1 to win this event coming in. After his 2-under 69, he is now 20-1.
Who had a awful day? Justin Thomas struggled all through. He regarded off from his first tee shot, went out in 38 and bogeyed two of his final three. He is Three over and T98 after Spherical 1. Figuring out him, he’ll in all probability exit and shoot 65 on Friday and get again within the event.
Stat of the day: There is no different one apart from this one, proper? Tiger’s first eagle putt (which he made) on the primary gap was 24 ft, Eight inches. Superb.
One factor I cherished: This made me giggle. Phil Mickelson making enjoyable of Brooks Koepka’s size? Come on.
What to observe on Day 2: The names on the prime of this board don’t encourage a ton of pleasure. Kuchar is okay, however past him you might have Wyndham Clark, Adam Schenk and Okay.H. Lee. OK, high quality. The actual juice is past them although, and I’d anticipate any person within the Three below or four below group — a monster identify or two (or three) — to race out and take over the event and even sidle up subsequent to Kuchar for a weekend date late on Saturday afternoon. And past that, I anticipate two of these star points of interest to finish up duking it out on Sunday afternoon for this trophy. Possibly event host Tiger Woods will even current it to himself.
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Tiger closes with a bogey for a 38 on the again. A stable 2-under 69 that might have been so much higher after the beginning he obtained off to. He performed his first gap in 2 below and performed the subsequent 17 even.
Justin Thomas’ lower bomb drive makes the knees weak.
Tiger drips in a pleasant par save on No. 17. No actual nice holes on the again 9 — he does not have a birdie for the reason that eighth — nevertheless it might have fallen aside (and it hasn’t).
Tiger strokes gained on the entrance: 3.8
Tiger strokes gained on the again: -0.5
Tiger pars No. 16. Had a pleasant take a look at birdie however could not get it to fall. His spherical has stalled out only a bit on the again 9. H wants one thing to go on the final two holes.
Tiger has gotten extremely wayward off the tee on his again 9. The stats do not present it as a result of he obtained a fortuitous break on the 11th when his ball hit a tree and jumped again into play, however he is nonetheless misplaced over a stroke in simply 4 holes.
Justin Rose was 40-1 coming into this week. He is -1 by 12 holes and 6 again of the lead. Guessing he is not nonetheless 40-1.
Tiger cannot rise up and down for bogey on No. 12. Fairly good runner that bit arduous all through, however he missed the par putt on the left-hand aspect. He falls again to T6 with Rory.
Tiger left coming into No. 12. Not an incredible shot from the center of the green. He’ll should rise up and down for par.
Tiger goes wild on his tee shot on No. 11, nevertheless it bounces into the green and he has a transparent take a look at the inexperienced at this par 5.