Max Homa felt right at home Thursday when he got out early at the Genesis Invitational.
“I’ve got good vibes here — a lot of support,” said the California Kid, who won the Farmers three weeks back in San Diego. He also has a lot of game and that translated into an eight birdie effort and an opening seven-under par 64 at stately Riviera Country Club.
“It feels like home,” Homa added, and it basically is home. He grew up in nearby Burbank and knows the nuances of courses like Riviera — especially those poa greens. Homa won at Riviera two years ago.
He wasn’t the only big name with morning success. World No. 3 Jon Rahm went out and finished just a shot behind Homa with a nifty 65 of his own. Like Homa, Rahm had eight birdies on his card but one more bogey.
In the afternoon wave, Keith Mitchell finished birdie-birdie on 17 and 18 to tie Homa for the first round lead. “Putted well,” Mitchell said after his work was done. “Anytime you shoot seven-under at Riviera is a big plus. Mitchell credited his resurgence to a much-improved short game. “It’s always been a weakness,” he explained. “Now it’s a big positive.”
Homa finished with three-straight birdies to top off his day.
World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler birdied his final hole of the day (18) to get in red numbers with a one-under par 70. Putting on the unpredictable poa greens proved his biggest challenge on day one.
Hardly anyone was Scheffler or any of the other big names. Tiger Woods made his return and after fighting his way back to one-over par through 15 holes, Woods put on a birdie-birdie-birdie charge to finish with a two-under par 69. He played with Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas. All three in that group birdied the closing hole. McIlroy posted 67, Thomas a 68.