Patrick Cantlay lights up Riviera, Gary Woodland’s day off in the dark room, Luke List’s putter is lit among 5 takeaways at Genesis Invitational

Feb, 2024

PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. — Waiting to do a post-round interview with PGA Tour Live, Patrick Cantlay was asked to name his best finish at the Genesis Invitational. He shrugged his shoulders as if he had no idea.

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One of the writers overheard this exchange and provided the answer: “He finished third last year.”

Cantlay smiled and said, “Oh, yeah.” Indeed, his record at Riviera Country Club is pretty stellar – four top-20 finishes in the last five years, including a T-4 in 2018 in which if he made any putts on the weekend he’d already be a tournament champion here.

That could be in Cantlay’s not-too-distant future if he can keep putting like he did on Thursday. He poured in more than 127 feet of putts en route to shooting a career-best 7-under 64 at Riviera in his 29th career Tour round and claiming a one-stroke lead over the trio of Jason Day, Cameron Davis and Luke List.

“Made every putt I should have and a couple longer ones,” said Cantlay, who gain just over 4 strokes on the field for the day on the greens and ranked second in SG: Putting. “It was a good start.”

Cantlay grew up not too far away – depending on 405 traffic – in Long Beach, California, and attended UCLA before turning pro, logging many more rounds at Riviera during his tenure there.

“It’s a place I’m comfortable,” he said. “It feels like a home game.”

He birdied eight of his first 14 holes in the opening round to vault to the top of the leaderboard, including holing birdie putts of 15 feet at No. 6, 26 feet at No. 8 and 28 feet at 14.

His lone blemish of the day happened at the par-3 166-yard 16th, where his tee shot caught a sycamore tree and left him in the rough 58 yards from the hole.

“Obviously a spot I’ve never been,” he said. “I’ve been on most places on this golf course.”

He didn’t bother to have caddie Joe LaCava pace it off, chunking his next into the bunker but scrambled for bogey.

“It was a good up-and-down,” he said.

Asked a few weeks ago whether he’d rather win at Pebble Beach or Riviera, two of his favorite places on the planet, he took the fifth, pleading that “I don’t like that question,” but something suggests that winning this close to home and just down the road from Westwood would be the former Bruin’s personal fifth major.

MORE: Tiger battles back spasms in return to PGA Tour

Here are four more things to know from the first round of the Genesis Invitational.

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