Golf: Kuchar has lead in LA, makes it look easy

2013-02-15T00:00:00Z Golf: Kuchar has lead in LA, makes it look easyThe Associated Press The Associated Press
February 15, 2013 12:00 am  • 

LOS ANGELES - Coming off a three-week break, Matt Kuchar might not remember golf feeling this easy.

He opened with three straight birdies, all of the putts inside 3 feet. He finished with back-to-back birdies at Riviera, holing a 25-foot putt on the 18th hole for a 7-under 64 that gave him the first-round lead Thursday in the Northern Trust Open.

Brandt Jobe, returning from a serious neck injury last summer, put his experience to use on the course he played more times than he can remember while at UCLA. He made four straight birdies late in his round, only to close with a bogey on the 18th to finish at 66.

James Hahn, a 31-year-old rookie who shared the 54-hole lead last week at Pebble Beach, and David Lynn of England were at 67. The group at 68 included Lee Westwood and 53-year-old Fred Couples, a two-time winner of this event who feels rejuvenated when he plays at Riviera.

Couples played the final Champions Tour event last year and the season opener this year, along with a two-day exhibition. He hasn't practiced much in between.

"So it's surprising, but again, I can figure my way out around this course," Couples said.

LPGA Tour

CANBERRA, Australia - Teen star Lydia Ko shot a 10-under 63 on Thursday to take the first-round lead in the LPGA Tour's season-opening Women's Australian Open.

The 15-year-old amateur won the New Zealand Women's Open on Sunday for her third victory in a professional tournament. Last year, Ko won the New South Wales Open to become the youngest player to win a pro tour event and the Canadian Open to become the youngest LPGA Tour winner. She also won the U.S. Women's Amateur.

Colombia's Mariajo Uribe was a stroke back, and South Korea's Jiyai Shin was two back.

Canada's Rebecca Lee-Bentham, playing in one of the final groups of the day, Ayako Uehara of Japan and South Korea's Lee Mi-hyang shot 66 to be tied for fourth.

Tseng, the Australian Open winner in 2010 and 2011, opened with a 68 in her first tournament of the year.

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