Shane Lowry made an encouraging start to his PGA Tour season as he opened his American Express with a five-under 67 at La Quinta Country Club.
However, such is the low scoring, it leaves him in a share of 39th place and five shots off the pace set by former US Ryder Cup captain, Zach Johnson and Alex Noren.
Lowry made a flying start and briefly led the tournament after back-to-back opening birdies before he added another on the 14th, his fifth.
He added further birdies on 17, 1, 5 and 6 with two bogeys coming on 16 and 3.
2007 Masters champion Johnson made six successive birdies to close out his front nine in 29 with just ten putts, before adding three late birdies down the stretch for a bogey-free start as he chases his first PGA TOUR win since the 2015 Open Championship.
“La Quinta Country Club is legitimately one of the purest places we play on the PGA TOUR year-in, year-out,” Johnson said. “The grass is — it almost looks fake. If you have it going, and you have some sort of rhythm, and you’re seeing the lines on the putting green, because they’re pure, you can put a number up. Love this place. … I told the assistant pro today if I broke 76 that I should get a free membership, but I don’t think that’s going to (happen). That’s unfortunate, but we’ll keep working on ‘em.”
Swedish player Noren made an electric start with five birdies and an eagle in his first seven holes before recovering from a double bogey with five birdies in his last six holes as he hunts his maiden PGA TOUR win.
“I don’t think I’ve been 7-under after seven (holes), and then I hit it out of bounds on my eighth hole,” Noren said. “Just fun to be here. I like this tournament. This course is beautiful.”