Australians Rhein Gibson and Cameron Smith are among those in pursuit of the tearaway leaders after the opening round of the PGA’s Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines.
Gibson and Smith both fired four-under 66 on Thursday to be tied fourth, just two behind 2018 Masters winner Patrick Reed and Sweden’s Alex Noren.
One behind the leaders in sole third position is American Scottie Scheffler.
The 34-year-old Gibson produced a blemish-free round with six birdies to join 12 others, including Smith, on the easier North Course.
Queenslander Smith mixed seven birdies, including three straight on 4, 5 and 6, with a lonesome bogey on the par-four 14th in his round.
One behind them is compatriot Adam Scott, who began with a bogey but then put together an impressive card.
The 2013 Masters champion birdied the fourth, eagled the fifth before making further birdies on the 8th and 9th to go out in 32.
Scott’s lone back-nine birdie on the 17th left him well poised in a tie for 16th.
Defending champion Marc Leishman made a slow start, shooting a one-under 71 on the more difficult South Course to be in a tie for 69th.
Leishman’s round included a triple-bogey seven on the fourth.
Jason Day, who won the event in 2015 and 2018, struggled to a four-over 76, also on the South Course, and will need to shoot low to make the cut.
Reed, who started his round on the back nine, had four birdies on each side. He birdied his first three holes and closed with birdies on his 14th, 15th and 16th holes of the day before registering a par on No. 8 and 9. He played the four par 5s in 3-under par.
“You know, kind of put myself in position today where I had to go out knowing that we’re going to get pretty good conditions, go out and try to make as many birdies as possible to be able to kind of weather the storm tomorrow,” Reed said.
Noren, who also started his round on the North Course’s back nine, was at four-under through eight holes after an eagle 3 at the par-5 17th hole. He posted his lone bogey at 18 before going 5-under on his final nine holes.
“I hit it very good with my irons and wedges, putted very good,” Noren said. “The driver wasn’t as good as I wanted it, but out here (on the North Course) you could get away with it if you manage to get out of the rough, hit the greens anyway. But I definitely need to shape up the driver for tomorrow.”
Players swap courses for Friday’s second round, with rain, wind and thunderstorms expected along the California coast. The final two rounds are set for the South Course.