LOS ANGELES - Tiger Woods produced the kind of start that has been so often lacking in his rounds at Riviera Country Club over the years.
The American superstar made an eagle on his first hole, opening a tournament with an eagle for just the second time since 2003. "It was a nice way to start", said Woods, noting that the numbers matched the two numbers that Kobe Bryant had worn during his National Basketball Association career.
In a scorching start, the former world No.1 also birdied the fifth and the par-four eighth hole, where the flag and signage were in the yellow and purple livery of the Lakers.
The putt never looked in doubt as the 15-time Major victor started an event with an eagle for just the second time since 2003.
The nine-time PGA Tour victor opened by picking up shots at the 10th and 11th and finished with seven birdies.
He eagled the first hole from 24-feet, 8-inches - the two numbers Bryant wore in his Lakers career - and he flipped his ball to his caddy in Kobe fashion following a birdie on the "Mamba" eighth hole. "I didn't know about the putt being that long".
"For a while we are going to remember what he meant, especially here in southern California", Woods said of Bryant. "I felt like it was just steady golf, a lot of opportunities and I was able to convert on a good number of the opportunities today".
The 44-year-old couldn't keep his swing together on the back nine, and it eventually caught up with him as two bogies left him five shots behind leader Matt Kuchar. "Like I said, very ironic that I happened to have those numbers on those holes and those exact measurements".
"There's a couple times today I hit good shots but was on the wrong side", McIlroy said. At the 13th, his tee shot was again left, forcing him to chip out, but he got it up and down from the fairway, making a 5-footer for par.
Kuchar carded a 7-under-par 64 to set the early pace at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif.
After a bogey at the 12th - where his approach rolled through the green - Woods came up with par saves at 13, 15 and 17 - where he was in a fairway bunker off the tee but salvaged par by two-putting from 68 feet. With one more win, Woods would break his current tie with Sam Snead for most PGA Tour wins in history.