Photo by Gordon Seay
Kevin Yu of Taiwan has never won as a pro, but he’s off to a good start this week.
The 25-year-old Yu (pictured), who won 13 times as an amateur, carded a bogey-free, eight-under-par 64 on the North Course at Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla to take a one-stroke lead over sixth-ranked Patrick Cantlay and Ryo Hisatune of Japan after the first round of the 72nd version of the Farmers Insurance Open.
All players in the field will play the South and North Courses in the first two rounds, before the final two rounds are played exclusively on the more difficult South Course.
“I fell short last week; bogeyed the last hole on Sunday,” said Yu, who tied for third in The Amiercan Express. “But yeah, I’ve been playing very good and just keep building momentum. If I hit a lot of fairways, I can have a lot of chances to get on the green and try to make some putts.
“I’ve been hitting the ball very good, so I don’t have to try to hit a lot — like my maximum distance out there. I just have to hit a lot of fairways. That was the plan today. … If I hit a lot of fairways, I can have a lot of chances to get on green and try to make some putts.”
Yu, who played college golf at Arizona State, birdied five of his first eight holes and added three more birdies on the last six holes in his flawless 64.
Cantlay, from Los Alamitos and UCLA, birdied three of his first four holes and added five more birdies coming home against a single bogey in his 65, which Hisatune matched with four birdies on each nine against one bogey as both also played the easier North Course.
“Obviously, we have different conditions this week,” said Cantlay, who has won eight times on the PGA Tour. “It will be a lot more wet this week. The scores should be quite a bit lower, but you play the golf course from the fairway and you can have a bunch of chances around here. My only bogey was kind of a bummer.
“I hit the ball very solid, played from the fairway a lot, which really gave me a lot of opportunities to make birdie today. When the rough is as wet as it is, it makes it more difficult. It’s harder to get the golf ball to go because the water gets in the way. But the rough is classically long here. I don’t think I’ve really ever played this golf course when the rough is short.”
Hideki Matsuyama of Japan holed out from the fairway on fifth hole in a bogey-free 66 and is tied for fourth with Shane Lowry, who had six birdies on his back nine, Thomas Detry of Belgium, who made seven birdies and a bogey, Aaron Rai of England, who posted a bogey-free 66, and Alejandro Tosti of Argentina, who eagled the 17th hole.
All of them played on the North Course.
Nicolai Hojgaard of Denmark had six birdies and a bogey while recording the best score of 67 on the South Course and is in a big tie ninth with Collin Morikawa of La Canada Flintridge and Cal, who birdied five of his first seven holes on the North; Maverick McNealy of Stanford, who had six birdies on the North; Nick Hardy, who sank a four-foot eagle on No. 6 of the South Course; Justin Suh of San Jose and USC, who made seven birdies on the North; Michael Kim of San Diego and Cal, who had three late birdies on the North; Chesson Hadley, who birdied the last two holes on the North; Matthew NeSmith, who made four birdies on the back nine of the North; Emiliano Grillo of Argentina, who eagled the fifth hole and had four birdies on the back nine of the North, and Bronson Burgoon, who played bogey-free on the North Course.
Fifth-ranked Xander Schauffele of La Jolla and San Diego State bounced back from a bogey on the first hole by making four birdies in a 69 on the South Course and is in a tie for 34th that includes Justin Rose of England, who won this event in 2019 and had a 69 on the North, while seventh-ranked Max Homa of Valencia and Cal, the defending champion, shot 70 on the South and is tied for 48th.
For complete results and second-round tee times, visit https://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard