PACIFIC PALISADES, California Colombian Camilo Villegas’ overnight lead of three shots held up when the first round of the Northern Trust Open was completed on a sun-splashed Friday morning at Riviera Country Club.
Dustin Johnson had a 66 and Bubba Watson played bogey-free in his round of 68. Spieth summoned a rules official to the scoring area and asked them to review video of his third shot on the ninth hole to make sure the ball didn’t move. “There are some trees down compared to the first time I played here – I think I started here nine, 10 years ago – and so you can spray but still manage the golf course”.
Rory McIlroy, in his American debut for 2016 and his first time at Riviera, opened with a 67, along with IL senior Charlie Danielson.
Reigning US Open and Masters champion Spieth bounced back from the worst opening round of his career with a three-under par 68 – 11 shots better than Thursday – but still missed the cut. The round got away from him on the back nine when he kept missing greens and leaving himself short par putts that are hard on poa greens in the afternoon.
McIlroy, among the late starters, shot a 69 to enter the weekend four shots back. I shot 79 today on a par 71.
Spieth needed a lot of birdies and a flawless round Friday to overcome a 79, his highest score ever in the opening round.
And then Spieth’s par putt ran 4 feet by the hole.
After he shot 5-under 66 on Thursday to be in a three-way tie for second, Watson smiled and opened with, “I just want everybody to know that I love this golf course and I love this community”. McIlroy dropped to number three in the world this week, losing ground to Australia’s Jason Day.
Brendon de Jonge was penalized four shots because he left a wedge in his bag that had been damaged the day before.
“I put myself out of position sometimes but with the way the golf course was playing it didn t punish you much”, he said. “But someone out there is going to get it going on the weekend, so going to need to have a good few days”. “Just too many mistakes”, he said.
But his round really fell apart when he missed a par putt from just inside 3 feet on the 12th.
Every golfer has bad days, and yesterday was one of those days for Jordan Spieth.
“I wanted to come here because of what I had seen on TV, and the great things that people say about Riviera”, world number three McIlroy, 26, told reporters on Wednesday after playing in the pre-tournament pro-am competition. “I’m not packing it in by any means”.
Thursday s was the first time in his seven seasons that he has played a round on the US Tour s west coast swing.
Starting at 10, Villegas made nine birdies in all, including four straight from the fifth through eighth.