Kuchar shoots 64 for early Phoenix lead


Scoring conditions were ideal during the first round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, and several big names were able to take advantage. Here's how things look after the first day at TPC Scottsdale, where Matt Kuchar holds a slim early advantage:

Leaderboard: Matt Kuchar (-7), Hideki Matsuyama (-6), Brendan Steele (-6), John Peterson (-5), Scott Brown (-5), Robert Garrigus (-5), Chris Kirk (-5), Byeong-Hun An (-5)

What it means: Matsuyama entered as the defending champ, and he set the pace before Kuchar slid past him late in the afternoon. Steele continued his long track record of success in this event, but the player everyone is chasing is the Olympic bronze medalist as he looks to snag his first PGA Tour win since the 2014 RBC Heritage.

Round of the day: Kuchar hasn't played since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge in December, but he got out of the gates with a 64 that included five birdies to go along with an eagle on the par-5 13th. Kuchar birdied the first two holes, then turned in a back-nine 31 that included birdies on Nos. 15 and 17.

Best of the rest: Matsuyama continues to feast on this desert layout, where he finished T-4 in 2014 and was a runner-up two years ago. Starting on the back nine, Matsuyama birdied four of his first nine holes and carded the lowest opening-round score by a defending champ since Tom Lehman's 64 in 2001.

Biggest disappointment: Pat Perez is a Scottsdale resident and former Arizona State Sun Devil, but his time in front of partisan crowds was short-lived. Perez finished T-4 last week in San Diego but withdrew after just seven holes, later citing a flare-up to the shoulder injury that cost him most of the 2015-16 season.

Main storyline heading into Friday: With more than a dozen players within three shots of the lead - and names like Phil Mickelson and Justin Thomas only a little further adrift - the leaders still have plenty of work to do. But the spotlight remains on last year's winner, as Matsuyama appears ready to continue his recent run of dominance at TPC Scottsdale.

Shot of the day: Jim Knous didn't expect to play this week, but the Web.com player advanced through a Monday qualifier and then made noise by holing his approach to No. 18, a 160-yard shot from the right rough. The eagle helped Knous shoot a 1-under 70.

Quote of the day: "In my opinion, I have severely underachieved." - Peterson, a former NCAA individual champ who remains in search of his first PGA Tour win at age 27.