Patrick Cantlay and Tony Finau opened with matching 5-under 66s at Riviera to share the top billing after 18 holes of the Genesis Open.
Cantlay, a native Los Los Angeleno who starred at nearby UCLA, offset a birdie on the first hole with a bogey on No. 4, but then went blemish-free the rest of the way, highlighted by four birdies over a seven-hole stretch (Nos. 7-13).
“I thought tee to green I hit the ball really well, I hit the ball very solid. I didn’t really miss any shots and just played the golf course really smart and took what it gave me, and I think that’s what you’ve got to do around here,” said Cantlay, who led the field in greens hit (16 of 18).
“I’m pretty familiar with the golf course and you’ve just got to hit a lot of smart shots over and and over and over again and not get too greedy.”
Finau, meanwhile, birdied four of his first five holes to turn at 4 under 32. A fifth birdie after the turn was wiped out by a bogey three holes later, but a final-hole birdie gave by the long-bombing Utahan the co-marquee alongside Cantlay.
“It was a great start. It’s a good golf course, and yeah, I got off to a great start. Made some putts early and was able to ride that momentum kind of throughout the whole round,” said Finau who hit 14 of 18 greens and 10 of 14 fairways.
“I drove it really nicely, which is what you have to do on this golf course. Hit a lot of fairways, so I was able to give myself some good looks.
“Happy to make that one on 18, my 18th hole, the ninth hole. I missed a few coming in. I hit a lot of good putts that just didn’t go in coming down my last few holes, so it was really nice to see that one go in on the last hole.”
One back at 4-under 67 is the threesome of Dominic Bozzelli, Tom Hoge, and Sam Saunders.
A logjam of 11 players sit T6 at 3-under 68, headlined by two-time Genesis Open champion Bubba Watson and Ryan Moore.
Tiger Woods, paired with Justin Thomas (69) and Rory McIlroy (71), posted a 1-over 72.
Defending champion Dustin Johnson struggled to a 3-over 74.
TOP 10: ROUND ONE
1 Patrick Cantlay -5
1 Tony Finau -5
3 Tom Hoge -4
3 Dominic Bozzelli -4
3 Sam Saunders -4
6 Eleven Players Tied -3
“Yeah, it’s nice to be in California. I love California, it’s where I grew up, I feel very comfortable here. UCLA’s just down the road so I know where to eat.”
– Patrick Cantlay
Credits: Getty Images, PGA Tour Media