Johnson tops crowded leaderboard at Riviera
Pacific Palisades, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - Dustin Johnson posted a 5-under 66 on Thursday and was alone in the lead when the opening round of the Northern Trust Open was suspended due to darkness.
Johnson, who is an eight-time winner on the PGA Tour, missed the cut at this event in two of the last three years.
Last year's runner-up Charlie Beljan posted a 4-under 67 and he headlines a large group tied for second. He was joined there by Robert Garrigus, Charley Hoffman, three-time winner this season Jimmy Walker, Francesco Molinari, Matt Jones, Brian Harman, Blake Adams, Scott Stallings and Sang-Moon Bae.
J.B. Holmes also stands at minus-4, but he has only completed 16 holes of his opening round at Riviera Country Club.
Keegan Bradley, who shared second place here in 2012, managed a 3-under 69. He stands alongside Jim Furyk, Brendan Steele, Rickie Fowler and Cameron Tringale. Pat Perez joined that group in 13th place as he was minus-3 after 17 holes.
The first round was suspended due to darkness. The 15 players that didn't complete their first rounds will return to Riviera at 10:30 a.m. ET on Friday to finish their rounds.
Johnson started on the back nine on Thursday and got on the board with an 8- foot birdie putt on the 11th. Two holes later, he dropped his approach inside nine feet and converted that effort for another birdie.
The 29-year-old reached the par-5 eighth in two and 2-putted for birdie from 22 feet out. He made it two in a row with a 20-footer for birdie on No. 18.
Johnson got up and down for birdie from a greenside bunker on the first to make it three in a row. That burst gave Johnson the lead at minus-5.
He found sand with his tee shot at the par-3 fourth and failed to get up and down for par. Johnson atoned for that mistake with a 7-foot birdie putt at the eighth. He parred the ninth, his last, lead by one.
"I just played pretty solid all day. I hit a lot of great shots and rolled in a couple 15 footers. This golf course is a tough golf course, but if you miss it in the right spot, you always have a shot," Johnson stated. "And the golf course is in fantastic shape. It's perfect weather and great scoring conditions right now."
Beljan flew up the leaderboard with four birdies in a 5-hole span from the 11th. He got to 5-under with a birdie on the first, but he gave that shot right back with a bogey on No. 2. Beljan parred the final seven holes to end one back.
Bae, Hoffman and Molinari all had five birdies and a bogey in their rounds of 67. Walker and Jones mixed six birdies with two bogeys.
Garrigus, Stallings and Brian Harman all had seven birdies and three bogeys in their opening rounds, while Adams carded eight birdies and four bogeys in his first round.
"I completely changed my attitude. I just stopped telling myself that I hated this place, so to speak," Garrigus stated. "But I convinced myself this is my favorite golf course of the year and I tell you what, this is the best shape I've ever seen it. The greens are rolling unbelievably good, and you don't usually see that on poa annua. So you know, I think with my attitude and the way the course has shaped up, I think everything worked out good today."
NOTES: The second round will start at scheduled at 9:40 a.m. ET ... Johnson has won three of the last five times he has led after the first round ... Darren Clarke withdrew due to a chest muscle injury after shooting 78 and Scott Verplank withdrew during the round with a back injury.
02/13 22:18:21 ET