SAN DIEGO — Patrick Reed birdied his first three holes and finished with a bogey-free 8-under-par 64 on Thursday at Torrey Pines Golf Course to share the lead with Alex Noren after the first round of the PGA Tour's Farmers Insurance Open.
Noren, Reed and Scottie Scheffler — who was one stroke back — all opened on the easier, 7,269-yard North Course, and they will play the 7,818-yard South Course on what could be a wet Friday. Heavy rain was forecast for overnight and into the second round at the municipal course overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
Peter Malnati and Ryan Palmer each shot a 6-under 66 to tie for the lowest South score Thursday and were in a group of a dozen players at 6 under. Malnati capped his round with an eagle on the par-5 18th: After a 321-yard tee shot, he hit his approach to 16 feet and made the putt.
That group tied for fourth included Luke List, who dropped just one shot on the North for his 66 and had a far better start than the other two Baylor School graduates in the field. Keith Mitchell managed just one birdie in his 77 and Harris English also had just one birdie in a 79, with both on the South layout.
List just missed a top-20 finish last weekend at PGA West, where he ended a skid of four straight missed cuts this season by making it to the weekend of The American Express. Neither English nor Mitchell played that event after all three of the Baylor grads competed the previous week at the Sony Open in Hawaii, where English was playing for the second straight event, having won the year-opening Sentry Tournament of Champions.
At Torrey Pines, Reed took advantage of nice weather and accurate tee shots to get off to the hot start. Starting on No. 10, he birdied the first three holes before making his first par. The 30-year-old American whose 11 professional wins include the 2018 Masters closed with a flourish as well, with birdies on his 15th, 16th and 17th holes.
"I 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. "I was able to kind of get off to a hot start and just kind of ride momentum going on through the rest of the round and continue attacking that golf course since that's the one you're able to attack.
"I was hitting the ball off the tee. You have to play from the fairway, shoot a low number and attack the course. Especially with what's coming tomorrow."
Reed said the closest he came to dropping a stroke was on the par-4 fourth. He had a 35-foot putt for birdie and rolled it three feet to the right but saved par.
"That was the closest to a bogey, having a chance for a three-putt, but besides that, everything else was pretty easy," he said. "Definitely it felt easy out there just kind of with how I was hitting the driver, getting the ball in the fairway. I was working it both ways, which was nice. It's not like I had only one way to go. I was able to hit the draws, hit the fades."
Noren, who also started on No. 10, eagled the par-7 17th and followed it with his only bogey; he birdied every other hole on his back nine.
The 38-year-old from Sweden is a 10-time winner on the European Tour but is still in search of his first PGA Tour win. He came closest two years ago at Torrey Pines, where he lost to Jason Day on the sixth hole of playoff from which Palmer was eliminated on the first hole.
Now he's off to a good start after taking advantage of fair weather.
"Yeah, I'm hoping that we're going to not get too flooded during the night," he said. "But I played the South Course two rounds this week, and I know how long it is now, especially when they lengthened some tee boxes, put them back. It's a test. You definitely need some good ball striking there, especially in windy conditions. It's good to get some birdies on the North, yeah."
Sheffler, who also played bogey-free, eagled the par-4 16th.
Marc Leishman, the tournament's reigning champion, struggled to a 71 on the South, including a triple-bogey 7 on No. 4.
Four-time major winner Rory McIlroy shot a 68 on the South and was in a group of 11 tied for 21st at 4 under. He's playing the tournament for the third straight year and hoping to file away some mental notes for this summer's U.S. Open, which will be played at Torrey Pines for just the second time.
McIlroy birdied had four birdies on the front nine but didn't get his fifth and final birdie until No. 17.
"I did well. I got off to a great start, 4 under through nine," he said. "A little disappointed I didn't pick up a couple more on the way in, especially with the two par 5s, not picking up any shots there. Yeah, I think any time you shoot 68 on the South Course here, you've got to be pretty happy."