Dustin Johnson makes strong start to world number one bid at Genesis Open

Published: Friday 17th February 2017 by The News Editor

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Dustin Johnson made a fine start to his bid to end the weekend as world number one by firing a first-round 66 at the Genesis Open.

Johnson reached the clubhouse on five-under par, two shots off the lead, as he chases a victory that could see him leap from third to first in the rankings.

For that to happen, current number one Jason Day has to finish worse than a three-way tie for third – and the Australian ended day one down in joint 74th, sitting on level par through 16 holes as darkness suspended play early in California.

Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama is also in with a shout of being world number one on Sunday evening, but needs to win while Day finishes lower than 24th.

And Matsuyama – who was in the same group as Day for the opening round – lies one-under par after 16 holes, six shots adrift of leader Sam Saunders.

Johnson, starting on the back nine, birdied the 11th, 14th, 17th and 18th to reach the turn in 32.

He overcame being stung by a bee on the first to gain further shots on the second and third but his only blemish of the day then came on the par-three fourth.

The American told pgatour.com: “I missed a pretty easy par putt on the fourth but I played really solid all day long.

“It would be great to get (number one) but I’m focused on this week. I just want to put myself in a position to have a chance to win on Sunday. That’s the only thing I’m really thinking about.”

Day struggled at Riviera Country Club, dropping shots at the fourth, eighth, ninth and 12th to cancel out gains on the first, sixth, 11th and 15th.

Matsuyama birdied the seventh but dropped a shot on the 10th, before ending his day with a gain on the 16th just before play was suspended.

The duo are scheduled to return early on Friday to complete their round after fog caused early delays in Pacific Palisades.

Once the fog lifted, the players enjoyed ideal conditions and Saunders took advantage with a flawless seven-under 64 as he chases a maiden PGA Tour win.

He enjoys a two-shot lead from Johnson, fellow Americans JT Poston, Daniel Summerhays and Brett Stegmaier, and Australia’s Cameron Percy.

Ireland’s Padraig Harrington is a further shot back after ending his opening round with three successive birdies and he is joined on four under by Phil Mickelson.

England’s Luke Donald and world number seven Adam Scott are in a group four shots off the lead.

Published: Friday 17th February 2017 by The News Editor

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