The Upshot: Humana Challenge, Rd. 1
January 16, 2014
By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
- Patrick Reed shot a bogey-free 63 and has a one-shot lead at the Humana Challenge
LA QUINTA, Calif. -- Patrick Reed shot a bogey-free 63 on Thursday at PGA West's Palmer Private Course to take a one-shot lead at the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation.
"I felt like there were some things I could have improved on, but at the same time whenever you tap in for par on the last hole and shoot 63, you're pretty happy," Reed said.
Ryan Palmer, Justin Hicks, Daniel Summerhays and former Humana champion Charley Hoffman are all tied for second place.
Reed won his first PGA TOUR title at the Wyndham Championship, the final event before the 2013 FedExCup Playoffs, but has gotten off to a slow start in the 2013-14 season. He missed the cut at the season-opening Frys.com Open, then withdrew from the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open with a wrist injury. He also finished 40th at the CIMB Classic and 16th at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.
Reed's 63 matched his career-low round on the PGA TOUR. His wife, Justine, wasn't on the bag, as she was for the 2013 season. She watched from outside the ropes as she is pregnant with the couple's first child; she is due to give birth to a baby girl on Memorial Day. Justine's brother, Kessler, replaced her on the bag.
A good finish here could help Reed get into his first World Golf Championship. He is No. 69 in the Official World Golf Ranking. The top 64 available players in the OWGR on Feb. 10 qualify for the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship.
ON A ROLL: Zach Johnson said his recent stretch is the best of his career. He closed the 2013 season with top-10s in seven of his final eight starts. He’s won three of his past seven worldwide starts (BMW Championship, Northwestern Mutual World Challenge, Hyundai Tournament of Champions), and finished eighth at last week’s Sony Open in Hawaii. The good roll continued Thursday at the Humana Challenge, as he shot a bogey-free, 7-under 65 at La Quinta Country Club.
Johnson struggled at the start of 2013, and realized last March that his swing was more “off more than I cared to admit.”
“I think the work that I put in there, and the trust that I had in my coaches then is really what’s starting to pay off now,” he said.
TAKE ME TO YOUR LEADER: Gary Player didn’t compete Thursday at the Humana Challenge, but he did hit the tournament’s first tee shot. Player, whose dedication to healthy living is easily visible, has been active this week in the tournament’s advocacy for healthy living.
President Bill Clinton also was in attendance Thursday, giving a press conference and appearing on Golf Channel’s telecast.
He isn’t playing in this year’s Humana, but said he has hit the links more often in recent weeks, playing twice during the holidays and 27 holes during his time out in the desert. “I’m trying to get back into both,” Clinton said of golf and his other hobby, playing the saxophone.
PICTURE PERFECT: As expected, low scores were aplenty Thursday at the Humana Challenge. The weather was perfect, with temperatures in the low 80s and little wind, and the Humana’s three courses were the three easiest layouts on TOUR last year.
Of the 155 players who completed play Thursday (Boo Weekley withdrew), 112 of them broke par. More than half the field (79) broke 70. Here’s the scoring average of each of the courses Thursday:
Nicklaus Private: 69.4 strokes
Palmer Private: 69.7
La Quinta: 70.2
Matt Every made two eagles, on both of the back-nine par-5s at PGA West’s Nicklaus Private Course, to shoot 65.
DOUBLE CHECK: President Clinton’s presence made it a little more difficult for one TOUR player to get onto the grounds Thursday. Charlie Wi had his credential double-checked on the way into PGA West. Security was high here with President Clinton on the grounds, and the guard wanted to confirm that Wi was where he was supposed to be.
“I’m glad I got a chance to play today,” Wi said jokingly. He should be happy. He shot 65 on Thursday at the Palmer Private Course. Wi, who lives about 150 miles away in North Hills, Calif., played PGA West around Christmas while preparing for 2014.
“I think that really helped,” Wi said. “I know the golf courses fairly well.”
Wi, who has made 210 PGA TOUR starts, is seeking his first victory. He has made the cut in all four of his Humana Challenge appearances, but never finished better than T-22.
CROOKED NUMBERS: Birdies are aplenty at the Humana Challenge, but players still must beware of big numbers, especially with water, desert and out-of-bounds lining many holes. Consider the above tweet from Chesson Hadley, who made just one par during his back-nine 34 that closed his first-round 71.
Robert Garrigus, who finished second in the 2012 Humana, was 6 under Thursday before making consecutive double-bogeys on his 15th and 16th holes of the day at La Quinta Country Club. He shot a 2-under 70.