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Two eagles puts McIlroy in contention while Woods slips after bright start

American golfer Matt Kuchar is currently in the lead at the Genesis Invitational.

Rory McIlroy at the Genesis Invitational.
Rory McIlroy at the Genesis Invitational.
Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

RORY MCILROY IS FOUR shots off the lead after hitting two eagles in his opening round to put him in contention at the Genesis Invitational at Riviera.

The world number one also finished with a pair of bogeys and a birdie for a three-under-par 68 which puts him in a tie for seventh place.

The 30-year-old is joined by nine others in that group, including Jason Day and Patrick Reed.

Tiger Woods is a stroke further back after the 15-time major winner faltered following a bright start in his pursuit of a maiden Genesis Invitational trophy.

The American superstar made an eagle on his first hole, opening a tournament with an eagle for just the second time since 2003 – the fourth of his career at Riviera.

Woods holed two birdies on a flawless front nine before fading after the turn, with the veteran bogeying twice – including the last for a two-under-par 69.

Meanwhile, Matt Kuchar sits at the top of the leaderboard with a three-stroke lead.

American golfer Kuchar carded a seven-under-par 64 to set the early pace at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades on Thursday.

Kuchar – who was part of Tiger Woods’ triumphant Presidents Cup team in Melbourne in December – is without a solo victory since the 2019 Sony Open in Hawaii more than a year ago.

But Kuchar made a strong start in California, where the nine-time PGA Tour champion was bogey-free as he holed seven birdies to top the leaderboard ahead of Lee Kyoung-hoon, Russell Henley, Wyndham Clark, Adam Schenk and Harold Varner III.

It is a star-studded field for the invitational event – one of only five tournaments given that status by the PGA Tour.

Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant – who tragically died in a helicopter crash along with his 13-year-old daughter Giannia and seven other victims last month – was honoured around the course.

From a flag in Lakers colours and with Bryant’s number eight, to Brooks Koepka sporting headcovers inspired by the five-time NBA champion.

Former world number one Koepka, reigning champion J.B. Holmes and Justin Rose are among the players at two under, while the likes of 2018 winner Dustin Johnson, two-time champion Phil Mickelson, three-time victor Bubba Watson and Jordan Spieth ended the day one over the card.

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