Sam Saunders shoots 64 for early lead at delayed Genesis Open

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Sam Saunders shoots 64 for early lead at delayed Genesis Open

PGA Tour

Sam Saunders shoots 64 for early lead at delayed Genesis Open

Here is a recap of Thursday’s first day of the 2017 Genesis Open at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif.:

Leaderboard

LEADING: Sam Saunders, have a day. The grandson of the late Arnold Palmer fired a 7-under 64 on Thursday at Riviera, earning him a two-shot lead overnight. Saunders, starting his day on No. 10, birdied 11 and 12 and went bogey-free on the round. Saunders, surrounded by the legacy of Palmer, was a full PGA Tour member the last two seasons but lost his card after a 148th-place finish in the FedEx Cup standings in 2015-16. In four Tour starts in 2016-17, he’s made just one of four cuts (and only finished T-57 on that weekend). Saunders has never won on the PGA Tour, with his best finish being a T-2 at the 2015 Puerto Rico Open, where he lost in a playoff.

CHASING: Early fog delays meant play was suspended due to darkness (at 5;34 p.m. local time). So the round isn’t over and play is set to resume at 10 a.m. ET on Friday, with second round play expected to commence at 10:10 a.m. ET. Regardless, an early leaderboard has formed behind Saunders. Five players are tied for second at 5 under. That quintet reads: Dustin Johnson, J.T. Poston, Daniel Summerhays, Brett Stegmaier and Cameron Percy. All are in the clubhouse. There are 11 players at 4 under, some finished, some not.

SHOT OF THE DAY: Phil Mickelson’s magic takes the top prize. Lefty actually hit the grandstand with his second shot at the par-5 17th (his eighth) on Thursday. But the ball bounced into the rough and Mickelson pitched in from there for an eagle and an early spot atop the leaderboard.

QUOTABLE: “I’m normally pretty stressed out there. But for some reason today, I felt pretty comfortable.” – Sam Saunders

CHIP SHOTS:  Phil Mickelson returned to Riviera for the first time in four years and started out hot, playing his first 10 holes in 5 under. He had the outright lead at that point, but two bogeys from there gave him a 4-under 67. Still just three off the lead and T-7 overall. … Billy Hurley III had a letter to his late father published earlier this week and the son fired an opening 4-under 67 at Riviera. Good start for a feel-good story in Hurley. … Jordan Spieth, coming off a win at Pebble Beach, is 2 under through 16 and T-30 after Day 1. … World No. 1 Jason Day is Even par through 16 and T-74. … Pepperdine senior Sahith Theegala, who won the Genesis Open Collegiate Showcase earlier this week to earn a spot in this field, is 3 under through 12 holes of his first round. … The inspirational Kevin Hall had a rough first round, as he sits 144th and last after an 8-over 79. Regardless, he’s a very impressive man.

UP NEXT: The second day of the Genesis Open, as we noted above, will commence at 10 a.m. ET with the first round to finish up. But the forecast looks REALLY bad. We might not get much play at all Friday. Check out Golfweek.com and follow our Facebook and Twitter feeds for full coverage of the action.

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