Low scores rule California desert with Putnam at 9-under

First Round — PGA Tour — Humana Challenge — PGA West (Palmer and Nicklaus) and La Quinta Country Club — La Quinta, California —

Michael Putnam carded the round of the day at the PGA Tour’s Humana Challenge firing a 9-under-63.

Even through six holes, the 31-year-old rallied down the stretch playing the PGA West Nicklaus Private Course — one of three courses in the rotation this week. He needed just 23 putts to secure the first-round overnight lead.

Low rounds were the name of the game Thursday in the Palm Spring area, as usual for this event. Patrick Reed won the title last year at 28-under and that included a final round 71.

Five players are T-2 after engineering rounds of 64 including 2012 Humana champion Mark Wilson, Francesco Molinari and Blake Adams. Molinari, now a full-time member on the PGA Tour after more than a decade as a member of the European Tour, was bogey-free on his round. Molinari ended 2014 at No. 16 in the European Tour’s Race to Dubai standings.

Wilson, a 150-to-1 long shot at, managed an opening nine 28 thanks to a pair of eagle-3s on his scorecard. 

Reed, Matt Kuchar and Jason Kokrak are part of a group at T-7 after 7-under-65s. Reed was bogey-free on his round. The defending champion won his last start two weeks ago in the 2015 opener in Hawaii.

Other Golf News:

  • Branden Grace headlines a group at 9-under through 36 holes at the European Tour’s CommercialBank Qatar Masters. Sergio Garcia, the defending champion, is just three back at T-10. Grace won earlier this season in December at the Alfred Dunhill Championship.
  • The Champions Tour tees off its 2015 campaign Friday in Hawaii at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship.
  • Phil Mickelson had his opening round near Palms Springs at 3-under at one point, but fell back to shoot 1-under-71. He is T-89. The cut comes Saturday after three rounds in the Coachella Valley.