Jordan Spieth is three off the early lead in California
Joaquin Niemann opened up a three-shot lead after the opening round of the Genesis Invitational, with Jordan Spieth among the chasing pack in California.
Niemnan fired an eight-under 63 at Riviera Country Club, mixing nine birdies with a lone bogey to match the lowest opening round in the tournament’s history and move top of a strong leaderboard.
Spieth posted an opening-round 66 to sit part of an American quartet in tied-second that includes defending champion Max Homa and last week’s WM Phoenix Open winner Scottie Scheffler, while Justin Thomas and Collin Morikawa are both four off the pace.
“I think it’s got to be one of my best days on the golf course, especially in a place like this with this history,” Niemann said. “You always know that you’re never going to have these days four days in a row, but it’s a good way to start.”
Beginning on the back nine, Niemann opened with back-to-back birdies and cancelled out a three-putt bogey at the 12th by holing from off the next green and adding three consecutive gains around the turn.
Niemann is chasing a first PGA Tour title since 2019
Niemann grabbed the solo lead when a wonderful tee shot at the par-three fourth set up a close-range birdie, with the Chilean picking up a shot on his next hole and adding another at the seventh to jump further clear of the chasing pack.
A final-hole birdie lifted Scheffler within three of the lead, having gone inches away from a hole-out albatross earlier in his round, while Homa picked up four shots in a four-hole stretch on his back nine and Cameron Young birdied two of his last three holes to also get to five under.
Max Homa makes eagle on the 10th hole in the opening round of The Genesis Invitational 2022 tournament.
Spieth briefly held the solo lead after following a first-nine 32 by taking advantage of the par-five first and rolling in a 12-footer at the seventh, only to bogey his penultimate hole to slip back to five under.
“Put in a lot of work the last three days on the putting green, hours and hours with Cameron [McCormick] to try and really get comfortable stroking it,” Spieth said. “It was nice to kind of feel like that hard work paid off by getting a break there on the first couple holes.”
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Scottish pair Martin Laird and Russell Knox are in the group on three under alongside Paul Casey and two-time Riviera winner Adam Scott, while world No 1 Jon Rahm birdied two of his last three holes to post a two-under 69.
Rory McIlroy and Xander Schauffele are also six back alongside Rahm, who struggled on the greens during the opening round, with Hideki Matsuyama opening with a one-over 71 and former world No 1 Dustin Johnson – the 2017 champion – struggling to a two-over 73.
Watch the Genesis Open throughout the week live on Sky Sports. Live coverage continues Friday from 2.30pm on Sky Sports Golf and 11.15pm on Sky Sports Main Event.