Sports

Northern Trust Open notes: No. 10 still has them flummoxed

Riviera's short par-four 10th is considered one of the best holes on tour

It's one of the annual post-round rituals at the Northern Trust Open.

A golfer finishes his round at Riviera Country Club and a reporter asks: "How did you play No. 10?"

It is hard to imagine a more talked-about hole on the PGA Tour.

It helps that Jack Nicklaus, long ago, called No. 10 one of the greatest par fours in golf.

The 10th is unique because it is only 315 yards, which makes it reachable to most touring pros.

Do you try to drive the green, or lay up?

Thursday's difficult pin position didn't make No. 10 any easier.

"I don't know how to play it," defending champion Bubba Watson said after his one-under round of 70.

Watson, one of the longest hitters on tour, choose a four-wood Thursday, chipped up to 30 feet and made the birdie putt.

Watson walked away feeling like he had stolen something.

"I'm so scared to death of the hole," Watson said. " It just looks worse and worse. As I get older, it looks worse. It's very difficult."

Former U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy, who shot three-under 68, is among the many who think the tighter grooming around No. 10 has made it more difficult.

Not that he's complaining. He made par Thursday.

"It's hard to criticize such a good hole," Ogilvy said. "It's a lot harder than it used to be, especially when the pins are at the back like today."

Ogilvy said it's best to pay your respects to No. 10 and move on.

"It's one of the top four or five holes we play all year on tour," he said. "It's a joy to play, even when you're putting a five on the card."

Ogilvy said, for years, he hit driver on the hole.

"It's clearly the wrong play and we all still do it," he said.

Thursday, though, Ogilvy changed his thinking. He laid up and walked away unscathed.

Jordan rules

Young tour star Jordan Spieth has warm memories of Riviera. In 2012, his University of Texas claimed the NCAA championship on the course.

"Yeah, my freshman year, we won it as a team here," Spieth said Thursday after his round of two-under 69.

Spieth didn't do as well in the NCAA individual championships at Riviera, finishing tied for 54th with rounds of 73-79-69.

He made up for that last year by shooting eight-under and finishing tied for 12th at the Northern Trust.

Sorry about that

It was a rough first day for several former Northern Trust winners:

Two-time champion Mike Weir (2003-04) and Ernie Els (1999) both waddled home at seven-over 78. Aaron Baddeley (2011) shot five-over 76, John Merrick (2013), Bill Haas (2012) and Robert Allenby (2001) shot four-over 75, while Rory Sabbatini (2006) shot three-over 74.

Never gets old

Vijay Singh won the first day 50-and-over contest.

His five-under 66 was five shots better than Fred Couples' even-par-71. The four other players over 50: Davis Love (72), Kenny Perry (72), Scott Verplank (73) and Woody Austin (77).

Not done

First-round play was suspended with three players left on course — David Lingmerth, Jim Herman and Drew Scott. Those players will be back in position at 7:45 a.m. to complete their rounds. None of the three will impact the leaderboard, as Lingmerth has the best score at even par. Scott is three over and Herman is two over. The second-round will start as scheduled at 6:40 a.m.

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