Reed’s birdie streak catapults him to top

The Associated PressJanuary 17, 2014 

Patrick Reed went low Thursday at the Humana Challenge in La Quinta, Calif. He wasn’t alone.

Reed ran off five consecutive birdies in the middle of his round on PGA West’s Arnold Palmer Private Course and finished with a bogey-free, 9-under-par 63 to tie his career low.

“The course is in perfect shape,” Reed said. “The rough isn’t very high, the fairways are perfect and the greens are rolling very true. That’s the main thing to being successful out here is with how great the conditions are, that if you’re hitting putts on line, they’re going to go in, no matter what.”

Ryan Palmer, Justin Hicks, Daniel Summerhays and Charley Hoffman each shot a 64.

Reed started on the back nine and birdied Nos. 16-18 and 1-2 to get to 7-under. He added birdies on Nos. 6 and 7.

“I started out a little struggling with the driver, had some lefts in it, but luckily I missed it in the right spots,” he said. “I was really confident with my irons, kept hitting greens, and all of a sudden, 10-, 12-, 15-, 20-foot putts started going in.”

SUPERSTARS STUMBLE ON DAY 1 AT ABU DHABI

Phil Mickelson made 17 consecutive pars in his first round of 2014 before a bogey on his last hole, finishing with a 1-over 73 and joining several big names who struggled at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship in the United Arab Emirates.

Rory McIlroy carded a 70, and Henrik Stenson had four bogeys in a 74. Sergio Garcia shot a 76.

Mickelson said before the event that he was driving better than ever after getting a new driver from Callaway Golf. However, he only hit five of 14 fairways on the Peter Harradine-designed course.

“I can’t recall the last time I had a round without a birdie,” Mickelson said. “But didn’t make a bogey there until the last.”

Matthew Baldwin of England, France’s Romain Wattel and Rafa Cabrera-Bello of Spain tied for the lead at 67.

tracking michael putnam on the PGA tour

This week: Humana Challenge, through Sunday, PGA West Nicklaus, PGA West Palmer and La Quinta Country Club, La Quinta, Calif.

First-round score: 4-under-par 68 at La Quinta CC.

Position: Putnam is tied for 31st, five strokes behind leader Patrick Reed (63 at Palmer).

Recap: How about 10 consecutive rounds of par or better in a return to the PGA Tour — with nine of them under par? That is the quality of golf Putnam is producing. At one point Thursday, when the University Place golfer ran off four birdies in his first seven holes, he held the solo tournament lead at 4-under. After his birdie at No. 7, he did not make another one, finishing with 11 pars in a row to complete his bogey-free effort.

Tee time Friday: 10:30 a.m. off the 10th tee at Nicklaus Course.

todd.milles@thenewstribune.com

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