PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. -- If someone had offered Corey Pavin a round of 69 before he teed off Thursday at the Northern Trust Open, he might have taken it.
"Maybe," Pavin acknowledged. "… I'm not sure."
But considering he owned sole possession of the lead at 5 under after he made a 6-footer for birdie on his 12th hole of the day, the score Pavin finished with left a little to be desired. He just couldn't get it to the house, making three bogeys in his last four holes.
"It was a good round, just didn't finish the way I wanted to," Pavin said. "Had it going nicely, scoring well, and could have finished better, but that's the way it goes. 2 under is still a real good round out there today."
Pavin, who won back-to-back at Riviera in 1994 and '95, said it was fun to see his name at the top of the leaderboard again on Thursday. He started on the back nine and made his move with birdie putts of 13 and 3 feet at Nos. 16 and 17, respectively.
The momentum continued on the front nine when Pavin chipped in for eagle from 31 feet at the par-5 first hole. He made a clutch 21-footer at No. 2 to save par, then seized the lead briefly at No. 3.
"I pretty much always know where I stand in the tournament," Pavin said. "Those are the good things that happened. I chipped in on 1 and made a 20 , 22 footer, whatever it was, on 2 for par. I hit a real nice shot in on 3 and was able to capitalize on that. Those are the things you look back on and say, that was good and some fortunate stuff. But 2 under is a good score."
The round began to unravel at the sixth hole, though, when Pavin missed the green at the par 3, barely chipped on and missed a 24-footer for par. He hit his approach over the green at the eighth hole and ended up missing a 6-footer for par there, then left himself a brutal, uphill 89-footer to try to two-putt at the ninth hole.
"I hit a good drive and a really good 5-wood in there and it just didn't get up over the hill," Pavin said. "It must have been close. I was surprised where it was. ... I hit two good putts actually. The second putt I hit real good from six, seven feet and it just lipped out. Those things happen."
The Northern Trust Open is the first of four PGA TOUR events Pavin plans to play this year. The 51-year-old will spend the rest of his year on the Champions Tour. On Thursday, though, he got the best of two of his 2010 Ryder Cup players -- Jeff Overton, who shot 73, and Rickie Fowler, who had a 74.
"It was cool to play with them," Pavin said. "Obviously we had a lot of fun over there and got to know them really well over there. We had a fun day. I'm sure that both of them would have wanted to shoot better scores, but it was nice. Good company out there." – Helen Ross