Zach takes early lead at Tiger’s World Challenge

Scoring Updates — Northwestern World Challenge — Sherwood Country Club — Thousand Oaks, California —

Zach Johnson posted a 5-under-67 to take the overnight lead in the opening round of the Northwestern World Challenge, a tournament hosted by World No. 1 Tiger Woods.

Johnson, who won the BMW Championship during the FedEx Cup Playoffs, leads Matt Kuchar by a shot as only five of the 18 players in the field managed to crack par at Sherwood Country Club in California.

Former Masters champion Bubba Watson and Hunter Mahan are T-3 at 2-under while pre-tournament betting favorite Woods is alone at 1-under. Rory McIlroy, coming off a victory in Australia, is 1-over while Ian Poulter and Jason Day — both contenders trending of late — struggled to shoot 76.

Graeme McDowell, champion here two of the last three seasons, is even par through 18 holes.

While Tiger was the favorite at 2 1/2 -to-1 odds, Johnson was a 20-1 betting selection at heading into the week.

The 18-player invitational field — now in its 15th season — features world ranking points this week.  Golf Channel and NBC Sports shares television overage this week.

Other Golf News:

  • South Africa’s Jbe Kruger (7-under) leads the European Tour’s Hong Kong Open through 36 holes. Kruger, the 2012 champion at the Avantha Masters, posted a back-nine 30 in round two to take the overall lead by a shot.
  • American Stacy Lewis reached 11-under through 54 holes at the Ladies European Tour’s season finale at the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters. Lewis, who is No. 3 in the Rolex Rankings, takes a two-shot cushion into in the final round.
  • Jamie Donaldson (67-66) leads the Nedbank Challenge through two rounds in Sun City, South Africa. The 25-1 betting pick is 11-under. Ranked 29th in the world, he is one-shot clear of American Ryan Moore and Henrik Stenson. Defending champion Martin Kaymer is T-4 alongside Thomas Bjorn.
  • Stenson, the FedEx Cup and Race To Dubai champion in 2013, won the Nedbank Challenge in 2008. He also had runner-up finishes in 2006 and 2009. He was the betting favorite coming into South Africa at 3-1 odds.