Zach Johnson rides a hot hand into the PGA Tour’s 2014 Humana Challenge at La Quinta, Calif., but amid a quality field in La Quinta, Calif., an opening 65 has him T-6 and two back of the lead.
Patrick Reed’s 63 on the PGA West-Palmer Private course, in which he gradually moved into contention before taking control of the day, put him atop the leaderboard by a shot over Justin Hicks, Charley Hoffman, Ryan Palmer and Daniel Summerhays.
Recap today’s highlights below – and scroll down for our previous coverage this week!
• • •
Update No. 30: 6:54 p.m. EST
Bill Haas pars his last hole of the day for a 65 at La Quinta that has him 7 under and two off the lead of Patrick Reed.
Brendon Todd birdies three straight on Nos. 6-8 at PGA West-Nicklaus to climb to 7 under, then finishes with a par for a 65 that puts him in the T-6 group alongside Haas and five others.
• • •
Update No. 29: 6:31 p.m. EST
Charley Hoffman finishes his day with three straight pars for a 64 in which he did all his damage between Nos. 5-15 on La Quinta. A UNLV product, Hoffman should know desert golf, right? He finished fourth in October at the wraparound-season opener, the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. He finished T-3 at the Valero Texas Open in April.
Barring some late fireworks from Bill Hass and/or Brendon Todd, leader Patrick Reed will enter tomorrow with a one-shot lead over Hoffman, Justin Hicks, Ryan Palmer and Daniel Summerhays.
• • •
Update No. 28: 6:19 p.m. EST
Leader Patrick Reed finishes with a par for a 63, heading to the clubhouse atop the leaderboard. Reed led much of the afternoon on the strength of five straight birdies midway through his bogey-free round at PGA West-Palmer. The Augusta State product finished T-16 at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions two weeks ago, and won last year’s Wyndham Championship in a playoff with wife Justine on the bag (she’s off because she’s expecting in May).
Charley Hoffman can still catch Reed; Hoffman is 8 under with one to play at La Quinta.
• • •
Update No. 27: 6:06 p.m. EST
Justin Hicks and Ryan Palmer overtake leader-in-the-clubhouse status with a pair of 64s, good for T-2 alongside Charley Hoffman and Daniel Summerhays. Hicks closed out with birdies on two of his last three holes at PGA West-Nicklaus,Hicks has a T-6 this season at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba – already bettering his top finish of 2013, a T-7 at the FedEx St. Jude Classic. Palmer finished even more strongly – the Texas A&M product was 1 over through six before birdieing nine of his last 12 holes.
Three more players have joined Stuart Appleby with a 66: Justin Leonard, Matt Jones and Brett Quigley.
• • •
Update No. 26: 5:54 p.m. EST
Russell Knox wraps up a 65, the fourth of the day, with back-to-back birdies at Nos. 17-18 at PGA West-Palmer. Knox, who played collegiately at Jacksonville, shot 59 last year at the Web.com Tour’s Boise Open. He’s looking to better his season-best finish of T-26 at the Frys.com Open in October, and hadn’t finished worse than T-32 until missing the cut last week.
Hudson Swafford follows with a 65 as well, on PGA West-Nicklaus. His bogey-free round started off quietly, 2 under through 12 holes, before Swafford ripped off five straight birdies to rise into contention.
• • •
Update No. 25: 5:36 p.m. EST
Leader Patrick Reed stretches his margin to two shots with a birdie at PGA West-Palmer’s seventh hole, which has him 9 under with two to pay. Among the T-2 group at 7 under, Charley Hoffman has the most time left to catch up to Reed – and he birdies the 15th at La Quinta to keep pace, moving to 8 under and alone in second.
• • •
Update No. 24: 5:27 p.m. EST
Let’s check in again on the top 10 players in the field, according to the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings:
- 10. Webb Simpson: T-25, 4 under through 16 holes
- 12. Zach Johnson: T-2 after a 7-under 65
- 18. Keegan Bradley: T-48 after a 3-under 69
- 23. Brendon Todd: T-48, 3 under through 12 holes
- 24. Bill Haas: T-7, 6 under through 13 holes
- 27. Charley Hoffman: T-2, 7 under through 14 holes
- 30. Harris English: T-7, 6 under through 13 holes
- 32. Brandt Snedeker: T-111 after an even-par 72
- 34. Brendon de Jonge: T-48 after a 3-under 69
- 35. Charles Howell III: T-89, 1 under through 13 holes
• • •
Update No. 23: 5:18 p.m. EST
Patrick Reed birdies No. 6, on the heels of three straight pars, to take the lead outright at 8 under with three holes to play.
Matt Every wraps up the third 65 of the day to join Zach Johnson and Charlie Wi on that mark, good for T-2 at 7 under alongside Charley Hoffman (who has four holes to play). Every’s round included eagles on his first two par 5s, after which he played the rest of his round in 2 under.
• • •
Update No. 22: 5:14 p.m. EST
It’s interesting to watch the scores file in on a day when tee times have been tightly clustered – the entire field teed off in a span of about two hours off both nines on three courses, unusual for a Tour event. Thus, the usual advantage of playing early is largely negated, at least compared to a morning group vs. an afternoon group. Behind the 65s carded by Zach Johnson and Charlie Wi and the 66 of Stuart Appleby, four 67s have been turned in by Scott Brown, Brad Fritsch, Jim Herman and Will MacKenzie. Eleven 68s have been completed.
• • •
Update No. 21: 5:05 p.m. EST
The lead pack grows to five, with birdies by Matt Every and Charley Hoffman lifting them into a share of the lead. Hoffman’s round sure looks interesting: Four straight pars followed by a nine-hole stretch with five birdies and an eagle.
• • •
Update No. 20: 4:57 p.m. EST
Zach Johnson wraps up his round at La Quinta with a birdie for a 65 that pushes him into a share of the lead at 7 under alongside Charlie Wi and Patrick Reed. Johnson’s bogey-free round included two pair of back-to-back birdies.
Another strong finish on PGA West-Palmer lifts Stuart Appleby to a 66, with two birdies in his final four holes. That puts him in a group of eight who are one shot behind co-leaders Patrick Reed and Charlie Wi.
• • •
Update No. 19: 4:49 p.m. EST
Charlie Wi is your leader in the clubhouse, signing for a 65 to share the top spot with Justin Hicks and Patrick Reed at 7 under. The Cal product lurked on the leaderboard much of the day, but not before overcoming two bogeys on his front nine. Wi closed with three birdies at Nos. 16-18 at PGA West-Palmer. Wi finished T-38 last week, with his best finish in 2013 a seventh at the AT&T National in June. It’s all a far cry from the 13 he carded on the fifth hole at Innisbrook during the 2012 Transitions Championship.
• • •
Update No. 18: 4:38 p.m. EST
Justin Hicks cards back-to-back birdies at Nos. 12-13 to tie Patrick Reed for the lead at 7 under, with eight players T-3 a shot back. Hicks finished T-51 last week at the Sony Open and T-6 at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in November.
Boo Weekley, by the way, has withdrawn with a knee injury. Weekley made it through nine holes, bogeying Nos. 11-13 at PGA West-Nicklaus, but closing with a birdie for 38. He finished T-29 at last week’s Sony Open.
• • •
Update No. 17: 4:12 p.m. EST
Patrick Reed’s fifth birdie in a row gives him the lead at 7 under, a shot ahead of a pack of five.
Reed’s wife, Justine, has been recognizable on his bag in recent years. But the Augusta State product is turning to a fill-in caddy while his wife is pregnant; she’s expecting in May.
So, about that “old guard” update earlier: A couple more well-known veterans are thriving. Stuart Appleby is 5 under, one back of the lead, with Davis Love III 4 under.
• • •
Update No. 16: 3:54 p.m. EST
Zach Johnson retakes the lead as Robert Garrigus double-bogeys No. 6, slipping to 5 under alongside five others. Johnson’s caddie, Damon Green, recently said that the Drake product is underappreciated and overlooked among the PGA Tour’s stars. His play of late, on the other hand, is making that less and less likely.
Two others have moved into a tie for the lead with Johnson – Andrew Loupe, who has birdied five of his last seven on PGA West-Palmer; and Patrick Reed, on the strength of four straight birdies from the 16th to the 1st at PGA West-Palmer.
• • •
Update No. 15: 3:36 p.m. EST
A birdie at No. 13 is Zach Johnson’s third in five holes and moves him to 6 under, cutting Robert Garrigus’ lead back to one shot.
Six players are T-3 – including Patrick Reed, who birdies three straight as he reaches the turn.
Matt Every’s first bogey of the day comes at No. 3 and drops him to 4 under, T-7 alongside nine others.
• • •
Update No. 14: 3:21 p.m. EST
A second set of back-to-back birdies gives Robert Garrigus a two-shot lead over five players, including Zach Johnson, with four holes left for him to play. Garrigus has birdied four of five holes since making the turn; he already had scattered three on La Quinta’s back nine to start his day.
• • •
Update No. 13: 3:09 p.m. EST
Robert Garrigus takes the lead at 6 under with a birdie at No. 4 – his third in four holes – and moves a shot ahead of Matt Every, Brad Fritsch and Zach Johnson (whose score reflects a correction on the leaderboard).
Garrigus went through his swing with Golfweek.com in 2012 video (mobile readers can watch it here).
• • •
Update No. 12: 2:52 p.m. EST
Defending champ Brian Gay is hanging tough on the La Quinta course, with back-to-back birdies at Nos. 5-6 before a bogey at No. 7 brought him back to 1 under. With the PGA Show set for next week in Gay’s hometown of Orlando, here’s a look back at last year’s show when Gay walked the floor with Golfweek.com senior writer Jeff Rude. (By the way, a report has Gay playing through neck pain today.)
• • •
Update No. 11: 2:41 p.m. EST
Zach Johnson birdies No. 10 to jump alongside the co-leaders at 5 under. It’s Johnson’s first eagle since the opening round of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, which he went on to win. Matt Every and Robert Garrigus are still at 5 under. [Editor’s note: An erroneous score was incorrectly reflected here earlier.]
There’s something of an old guard here this week, and the early-going is not kind to that crowd. Peter Jacobsen is T-142 at 2 over, while Lee Janzen, Scott Verplank and Mike Weir are T-120 at 1 over. Jerry Kelly, on the other hand, is T-10 at 3 under through eight holes. So maybe age is just a number; besides, there’s plenty of time left.
• • •
Update No. 10: 2:32 p.m. EST
Newly engaged, Pat Perez is 1 under through eight holes, having run off six straight pars since a birdie at No. 11 on La Quinta. Perez isn’t afraid of pressure, having popped the question in front of a crowd that was about to see Stevie Nicks take the stage.
Back-to-back birdies at Nos. 1-2 after making the turn at La Quinta lift Robert Garrigus to 5 under and again into a share of the lead. Six players are T-3, one shot back.
• • •
Update No. 9: 2:20 p.m. EST
Zach Johnson stays on the lead pace with a birdie at No. 9 as the group of co-leaders at 4 under grows to five: Johnson, Brad Fritsch, Robert Garrigus, Michael Putnam and Kevin Tway. All but Fritsch are playing the La Quinta course, with the Canadian on PGA West-Palmer.
But Matt Every then leapfrogs the entire bunch with an eagle – his second of the day – on No. 16 that lifts him to 5 under through seven holes. Every managed four top-10 finishes in the 2013 season, his best a T-4 at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial.
• • •
Update No. 8: 2:09 p.m. EST
Let’s check in on where the top 10 players in the field, according to the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings, stand so far in this first round:
- 10. Webb Simpson: T-37, 1 under through four holes
- 12. Zach Johnson: T-3, 3 under through seven holes
- 18. Keegan Bradley: T-37, 1 under through seven holes
- 23. Brendon Todd: T-72, even through two holes
- 24. Bill Haas: T-37, 1 under through three holes
- 27. Charley Hoffman: T-72, even through three holes
- 30. Harris English: T-37, 1 under through three holes
- 32. Brandt Snedeker: T-12, 2 under through seven holes
- 34. Brendon de Jonge: T-12, 2 under through seven holes
- 35. Charles Howell III: T-127, 1 over through two holes
• • •
Update No. 7: 1:56 p.m. EST
Moving out to 4 under is Michael Putnam, last year’s Web.com Tour player of the year, with three birdies at Nos. 5-7 adding to another that had started his round at La Quinta. The former Pepperdine player finished T-32 last week at the Sony Open.
Nine players are a shot back at 3 under.
• • •
Update No. 6: 1:40 p.m. EST
If anyone can handle the pressure of the first tee, even with Tour commissioner Tim Finchem and former President Bill Clinton standing beside you, it’s Gary Player. The Hall of Famer from South Africa got the day started with a ceremonial first swing.
The group of co-leaders at 3 under has grown to six: Matt Every, Brad Fritsch, Robert Garrigus, Zach Johnson, Russell Knox and Michael Putnam.
• • •
Update No. 5: 1:25 p.m. EST
Matt Every pushes the lead number to 3 under, with a birdie at No. 12 followed by an eagle at the par-5 No. 13 on the Nicklaus course. Every, a former Florida Gator, finished T-8 last week at the Sony Open, his second top-10 finish of the wraparound season. Seems he doesn’t mind amateurs here, though he took to Twitter last year to decry the number of amateurs in the Masters.
Zach Johnson catches up by birdieing No. 6 at La Quinta. Robert Garrigus also matches Every’s mark with a birdie at No. 16 at La Quinta. And John Daly keeps pace, still one off the lead with his second birdie in as many holes today, also on La Quinta; Daly is among 11 players at 2 under.
On a side note, it’s certainly strange to have more than 100 players underway for their round and none of them making the turn yet.
• • •
Update No. 4: 1:12 p.m. EST
Cameron Tringale cards an eagle to help the lead pack at 2 under grow to eight players. Meanwhile, John Daly birdies to move to 1 under, on the heels of cashing a check at last week’s Sony Open – then nearly winning a car for a hole-in-one (find out why he didn’t get the prize despite knocking it into the cup from the tee).
• • •
Update No. 3: 1:01 p.m. EST
Defending champ Brian Gay gets his round going with a par at La Quinta’s first hole. Gay recently staged an event for his charity foundation that raised $400,000 for a children’s hospital in Orlando (mobile readers can see the video here).
The fivesome at 2 under, a group started by Zach Johnson, still leads – with another 35 players T-6 at 1 under. The scores will be interesting today, with groups off both nines at three courses and no “afternoon wave.”
• • •
Update No. 2: 12:37 p.m. EST
Zach Johnson’s lead at 2 under didn’t last long: Will Claxton, Nicolas Colsaerts, Brad Fritsch and Robert Garrigus have all matched with a pair of birdies in the early going. Throughout the field, birdies are clearly outpacing bogeys in this tournament where low scores are traditionally a must.
• • •
Update No. 1: 12:29 p.m. EST
Leave it to Zach Johnson to get to 2 under before anybody else, as the Tournament of Champions winner birdies his second and third holes – and at La Quinta CC no less, regarded by many as the toughest of the three courses.
• • •
It’s tough to find better weather than this: Temps are around 70 to begin play, with a high in the mid-80s; the wind, however, is expected to get to about 11 mph in the afternoon. With the last bunch of tee times at 10:30 a.m. local time, we’ll see how much of a factor it is by the time rounds are nearing an end.
• • •
For better or for worse, this is not your grandfather’s Bob Hope tournament. That era is gone. During the past couple of years the pro-am tournament has moved from five rounds to four and from 25-30 celebrities to four.
Zach Johnson is among the experts’ favorites for this week’s Humana Challenge in Southern California on the PGA Tour. Harris English is another name frequently mentioned, along with Brendon de Jonge among sleepers.
• • •
PGA Tour golf fans, say hello to Harris English. Oh, and offer greetings to Hudson Swafford. Got it? You probably don’t, but don’t feel embarrassed if you confuse them. You’re not the first, and you won’t be the last.
Brendan Steele is a native of nearby Idyllwild, Calif., a town nestled in the San Jacinto Mountains, and as a kid attended the Bob Hope Classic a few times with his father and brother. Now Steele, 30, is back at what qualifies as his hometown tournament.
• • •
When Zach Johnson shot a 1-over 74 in Round 3 of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions and nearly squandered his chance to win, he said his biggest problem that day was not being “athletic” over his putts. It begged the question: How does one be “athletic” while putting?
In a stretch of impressive play that is entering its fourth year, two things have been present in Adam Scott’s game: His casual peek toward his left hand before he gets into position to swing, and his practice grounds in the Bahamas. First, it starts with his grip.
When John Daly made an apparent hole-in-one in Monday’s pro-am for the Humana Challenge, he appeared to have won a new car. But the PGA Tour ruled Tuesday that Daly couldn’t claim the prize
There are a few overseas tripped planned by Jason Dufner, starting with the European Tour stop in Qatar in two weeks. It means Dufner will not tee it up at the Farmers Insurance Open. He’ll also play at the Volvo Open in China and the BMW International in Germany.
Pat Perez, a romantic? Who knew? “It’s called class,” said Perez with a laugh, when asked to tell the story of his New Year’s Eve proposal to girlfriend Ashley Pendley. Invited to a private party at the MGM in Las Vegas, Perez asked for permission to have the stage before the headliner, Stevie Nicks, came on to perform. “I only need two minutes,” he said.
Mark your calendar for golf’s four majors in 2014 – the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship – as well as the Ryder Cup and more.