Patrick Cantlay and Tony Finau each carded a five-under-par 66 on Thursday to share the overnight lead in the Genesis Open.
Play was suspended by darkness at Riviera Country Club with 12 golfers yet to complete the first round. The opening round will conclude Friday morning, ahead of the second round.
Tiger Woods, in his second tournament of the year after a layoff for spinal surgery, was tied for 63rd after a one-over 72. Woods’s playing partners both fared better, with Justin Thomas shooting 69 and Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy shooting 71.
Safely in the clubhouse through 36 holes alongside Cantlay is McDowell, who carded a five-under 66 with seven birdies and two bogeys. Despite some recent struggles, including missing his last three cuts and registering just one top-10 since August 2016, the 2010 U.S. Open champion had a feeling some good golf was right around the corner.
“It’s been much of the same stuff for the last four, five months. My numbers just haven’t been showing it,” McDowell said. “I opened up with three missed cuts this year but walking away from them saying to myself, you know what, I’m really happy with what I’m doing, I’m really happy with the progress I’m making and just stick to the process.
Woods, who had a difficult time off the tee at Torrey Pines three weeks ago, turned to a driver like one he used in the past. He said he was happy with it, despite wayward tee shots early, including his first using the driver. It was on his second hole, and the ball disappeared into some eucalyptus trees; Woods ended up with a double bogey.
He missed the fairway the first three times he used the driver, but started reaching it on the back nine.
Cantlay logged six birdies and one bogey. Winner of the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open last year during his rookie season, he was one of just two rookies, along with Xander Schauffele, to compete all the way to the end of the 2017 FedExCup playoffs.
Finau, starting his round on the back nine at Riviera, birdied each of the first three holes and then No. 5, making the turn at 4 under par. He added two birdies and a bogey on the front nine.
Finau is two years removed from his only PGA Tour win, in the Puerto Rico Open.
Tom Hoge, Dominic Bozzelli and Sam Saunders share third place at 67. Eleven players are tied for sixth at 68.
Phil Mickelson’s inconsistent round of 70 left him tied for 21st. He recorded four birdies and three bogeys.“I played well, but I didn’t score well,” Mickelson said. “It’s a solid start, the golf course was not playing easy. I just need to go a little bit lower tomorrow.”