SAN DIEGO – Sam Ryder says that most of his big rounds usually start with a birdie. On Wednesday, in the first round of the Farmers Insurance Open, he did better than that.
From par 5, 10the hole on the North Course at Torrey Pines, Ryder rolled in a long eagle putt.
“Well, that’s it for me. I’m done for today,” Brendan Steele, one of his competitors in his group, recounted what Ryder said. “I was like, ‘Dude, this isn’t the best ball. You have to keep playing. So he decided to go crazy.
Ryder scored six birdies to go along with the eagle for an eight-under-par, bogey-free 64, and shared the lead with Aaron Rai and rookie Brent Grant. Steele did his best to keep up with Ryder, rolling in a birdie in 10, the first of seven in the round to shoot 65.
“He was always in front of me all day,” Steele said. “His good game from him came in handy. It’s nice to see the balls go into the hole.”
“You feed off of it,” Ryder added of a comfortable matchup in which both players were marked. “There’s some truth to that, for sure.”
Ryder, 33, entered the tournament on a losing streak, having missed three straight cuts and four of his last five, but his confidence remained intact.
“I felt like I was shaking off the rust from the parties,” he explained. “I have been working hard since the start of the new year and I feel good with my game. It was just, it started off the tee for me, it was a hit on the fairway and I felt like I could attack.”
Ryder gave him a stress-free round and it all started with the opening eagle.
“There wasn’t much on the putt,” he said. “It was actually quite straight and it was one of those when it was halfway up, it looked pretty good and it just came out perfect.”
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From DFL to the top of the ranking for Brent Grant
The 26-year-old rookie came off the American Express last week and finished dead last through 36 holes. His score of 54 included a two-stroke penalty for being late to the first tee during his third round of 79.
Same man, more experience, he said.
“It’s a good round of golf and I can be in the lead with a couple of other guys, but again, it’s just day one,” he said. “You have to put the past behind you and it is the past, so now we move on.”
Grant birdied four straight holes, starting on the ninth drive at his 64, and credited his putter for the good start.
“I’ve probably worked harder on my putting in the last four days than ever in my life after having a pretty bad two weeks,” said Grant, who visited Scotty Cameron’s nearby putting studio for a tune-up. “I’m always open to change when it comes to putting because I’m as ignorant as anyone when it comes to those things. I can’t thank you enough. But then again, it’s just a good start. We have to keep doing it.”
Aaron Rai feeling at home in Torrey Pines
Rai, a native of England, shot his own bogey-free 64 and said he felt right at home on a sunny but cool day.
“I think the temperature and also the way the wind affects the ball is a bit closer to the temperature it would have grown up in in the UK. The ball doesn’t travel as far here compared to other places in the United States,” Rai said.
Rookie Sam Stevens, who made back-to-back birdies at numbers 13 and 14 during a bogey-free round, and Andrew Novak, who made four birdies in a stretch of six holes on the back nine, were sitting well on 66 on the South Course plus Lasted.
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Jon Rahm watches his tee shot on the first hole during the first round of the Farmers Insurance Open golf tournament at Torrey Pines Municipal Golf Course – South Course. Mandatory Credit: Ray Acevedo-USA TODAY Sports
It was a mixed bag for the top ranked players on the field. Collin Morikawa led the way with a five-under 67 on the North Course. Will Zalatoris and Max Homa had a comeback shot at 68.
Reigning PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas opened with a solid 4-under-par 68 on the South Course.
Looking for a win in his third straight start, John Rahm posted 1-for-73 in the South and will have a lot of work to make the cut, let alone keep his hot streak intact. Making things more difficult for Rahm and the field are the Santa Ana winds, which are expected to blow on Thursday.
Local product Xander Schauffele struggled to match par 72 in the North. Tony Finau was a worse hit at 73 in the South.
welcome back Lanto
Lanto Griffin hits his first shot on the 18th hole of the North Course during the first round of the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course on January 25, 2023 in La Jolla, California. (Photo by Orlando Ramirez/Getty Images)
Lanto Griffin wasn’t sure what to expect after a nearly seven-month absence from the PGA Tour.
It couldn’t have gone much better than a bogeyless 5-under 67 on the North Course at Torrey Pines on Wednesday in his first round back.
Griffin, 34, underwent a microdiscectomy on July 25 to repair a ruptured disc in his lower back (L5-S1).
Griffin said the injury bothered him off and on for more than two years but had become unbearable in the last three months.
“The quality of life was impossible,” said Griffin, who last played July 1 in the John Deere Classic.
Before surgery, Griffin tried an epidural, but the injection made the injury worse.
Griffin said she strengthened her back during physical therapy and has been walking her dog four times a day. He made a rehab start last week on the Korn Ferry Tour, which marked the first time he’d played and walked six days in a row. He dialed himself in 100 percent.
“Pretty close,” he said. “Knock on wood, it’s been good for the last three months.”
Odds after the first round
The story originally appeared on GolfWeek