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Blair, Murray co-lead American Express; Fowler one back

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Following rounds of 64, Zac Blair and Grayson Murray share the lead after 18 holes at the American Express, with Rickie Fowler just one off the pace. Here’s how things played out on Day 1 in Palm Springs:

 

LEADERBOARD

T-1. Blair (-8)

T-1. Murray (-8)

T-3. Hank Lebioda (-7)

T-3. Fowler (-7)

T-3. Scottie Scheffler (-7)

 

WHAT IT MEANS

Murray, winner of the 2017 Barbasol Championship, struggled through last season with a back injury, making just 5 of 14 cuts, with three withdraws. After missing the FedExCup playoffs, he secured his 2019-20 PGA Tour card via the Korn Ferry Tour Finals. He also came into the season armed with 12 starts to earn 318 points on major medical extension. But the fall was likewise a struggle, with a T-36 at the Greenbrier followed by three more MCs and another WD. This is his first start since he pulled out of the Houston Open in October following a first-round 79.

Blair, meanwhile, is back on Tour after a sojourn last year to the Korn Ferry Tour. He finished 12th in the regular-season standings, aided, by his win at the Ellie Mae Classic, to earn his promotion. It was an active fall for the architecture enthusiast, highlighted by a tie for fourth at the Safeway.

 

ROUNDS OF THE DAY

Murray appeared set to sign for a new PGA West Stadium Course record of 63 before three-putting the ninth green on his final hole of the day for his only bogey.

Over at La Quinta, Blair was bogey free, with eight birdies, five of which came in a second-nine 31.

 

BEST OF THE REST

Fowler kicked off a three-week West Coast run with a round of 7-under 65, making five consecutive birdies on Nos. 5-9 at La Quinta. Fowler has been in town since last Tuesday, readying for this week in Palm Springs, next week at Torrey Pines and the following week at TPC Scottsdale.

Focused Fowler (65) off to fast start at AmEx

With a big season ahead, Rickie Fowler is targeting his focus on the next three weeks as he looks to get off to a strong start in 2020.


He was joined at 7 under by Scottie Scheffler, also at La Quinta, and Hank Lebioda, on the Nicklaus Tournament Course.

 

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT

Si Woo Kim made a quadruple bogey, three triples, a double, a bogey and a birdie for a round of 15-over 87 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course.

Si Woo Kim

Kim was 11 shots worse than any other player on Day 1.

 

SHOT OF THE DAY

Two of them, in the form of this up-and-down from the Tip O’Neill bunker left and well below the 16th green at the Stadium Course:


 

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“I didn't play great today but still had a decent score. I feel like I'm ready to go on a tear, like I'm excited to play.” – tournament host Phil Mickelson after a first-round 70 at La Quinta

Phil scrambles for 70 in first round of new year

In his first round of the new year, Phil Mickelson flashed some similar tendencies en route to an opening 70 at The American Express.


 

REMINDER

It’s a 54-hole cut this week, with players teeing it up on all three courses, before moving over to the Stadium Course for the final round on Sunday.