Torrey Pines: Patrick Reed and Alex Noren lead after 64s, while Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm fade after strong starts
Eight-under 64s from Patrick Reed and Alex Noren lead the way after round one, with Rory McIlroy well placed to attack the easier North Course on Friday, although Torrey Pines is braced for heavy rain and storms.
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 29/01/21 6:04am
Ryder Cup rivals Patrick Reed and Alex Noren share the first-round lead at the Farmers Insurance Open as Rory McIlroy aired his frustration at not building on a superb start.
Reed and Noren both carded eight-under 64s on the easier North Course at Torrey Pines, while McIlroy's 68 was one of the better scores on the South Course - the venue for the US Open in June.
McIlroy, who is now in a run of seven tournaments in a punishing eight-week stretch, was four under at the turn but showed signs of fatigue over the back-nine having flown in from Abu Dhabi at the start of the week.
The world No 7 dropped a shot at the 15th after a terrible wedge approach left him over 60 feet from the flag, from where he three-putted and almost did the same on the next green, although he did atone for his bogey with a good putt for birdie at the 17th.
A par at the last saw him end the opening day four behind the co-leaders, with Reed first into the hutch on eight under having started his tournament with three straight birdies from the 10th and making another three-in-a-row on the front nine.
But the former Masters champion is wary of the threat of bad weather that is expected to disrupt the second round, and would make the South Course an even tougher proposition.
"I felt like I hit the ball well, left myself with a lot of good opportunities, a lot of makeable putts, and when you're doing that around a golf course like the North, you have to go take advantage of it, especially with what's coming within the next 24 hours," said Reed.
"I had to go out knowing that we're going to get pretty good conditions, go out and try to make as many birdies as possible to be able to kind of weather the storm tomorrow. I was able to kind of get off to a hot start and just kind of ride momentum going on through the rest of the round,"
Noren, who lost to Jason Day in a Monday play-off in 2018, eagled the 17th on the North and birdied three of his last five holes to post the low score of the later starters, and the Swede has also been warned about the prospect of a delayed start to Friday's play with heavy rain and thunderstorms expected to hit San Diego overnight.
"I'm hoping that we're going to not get too flooded during the night," said Noren. "But I played the South Course twice this week and I know how long it is now, especially when they lengthened some tee boxes, put them back.
"It's a test, you definitely need some good ball‑striking there, especially in windy conditions, so it's good to get some birdies on the North."
Scottie Scheffler bounced back from missing the cut at PGA West last week as he carded an eagle and five birdies in a 65 on the North, while a dozen players fired 66s with only one of them, Ryan Palmer, coming on the South layout.
England's Tom Lewis returned a 68 on the North to match last week's American Express champion Si Woo Kim, while Jon Rahm's 69 followed a similar pattern to McIlroy's as he was also unable to threaten the lead following a flying start.
Rahm birdied three of the first four holes before mixing two bogeys with another pair of birdies in an entertaining seven-hole run without a par, and he did get to four under after 14 holes before bunker trouble at the 17th cost him his third blemish of the day.