LA QUINTA, Calif. – Robert Garrigus was smiling when he left La Quinta Country Club after the first round of the Humana Challenge.
Was it the perfect weather? The flawless course conditions? The knowledge that there's plenty more chances to score?
Yes, yes and yes.
"Not too discouraged," Garrigus said.
He had reason to be Thursday after a late two-hole meltdown that dropped him from the top of the leaderboard to a tie for 80th.
Garrigus birdied the par-5 fifth — his 14th hole — to reach 6-under, then blasted a 7-wood approach out-of-bounds en route to a double bogey on the par-5 sixth. He made a mess of the par-3 seventh, too, hitting into the water for another double bogey.
"I was playing really well and just gave it all away," Garrigus said after signing for a 2-under 70 that left him seven strokes behind leader Patrick Reed.
Garrigus pointed out that he opened with a 73 two years ago and shot 64-61-68 to tie for second behind Mark Wilson.
"Those courses over there are a little easier," Garrigus said.
Over there is PGA West, where he'll play the Jack Nicklaus Private Course on Friday and Arnold Palmer Private Course on Saturday.
Reed ran off five straight birdies in the middle of his bogey-free round on the Palmer course and tied his career low with a 9-under 63.
"The course is in perfect shape," said Reed, the Wyndham Championship winner in August. "The rough isn't very high, the fairways are perfect and the greens are rolling very true."
Reed started on the back nine and birdied Nos. 16-18 and 1-2 to get to 7-under. He added birdies on Nos. 6 and 7.
"I started out a little struggling with the driver, had some lefts in it, but luckily I missed it in the right spots," Reed said. "I was really confident with my irons, kept hitting greens and all of a sudden, 10-, 12-, 15-, 20-foot putts started going in."
With wife Justine pregnant with their first child, her brother, Kessler Karain, is subbing as Reed's caddie. Justine has walked every hole with her husband this year and plans to rejoin him inside the ropes after the baby girl arrives. The due date is Memorial Day.
"We can't wait for that," Reed said. "I'm excited to be a dad."
Ryan Palmer, Justin Hicks, Daniel Summerhays and Charley Hoffman shot 64.
Palmer birdied his final six holes and nine of his last 12 on the Palmer course.
"I wasn't making a whole lot of long putts, just hitting it close," Palmer said.
Hicks had an eagle, seven birdies and a bogey on the Nicklaus course.
"Just trying to give myself as many opportunities as I can," Hicks said.
Hoffman, the 2007 winner, had an eagle and six birdies at La Quinta.
"I love this golf course," Hoffman said. "I think this is probably one of the better tracks we play all year when it's said and done."
Summerhays birdied seven of his last 10 on the Nicklaus course.
"It's fun to make birdies," Summerhays said. "That's one of the fun things about this tournament is that the courses are a little easier. They're in perfect shape, which makes them almost even easier."
With a high temperature in the mid-80s and only a gentle morning breeze off the Santa Rosa Mountains, the players averaged 69.692 on the Palmer course, 69.431 on the Nicklaus layout, and 70.192 at La Quinta.
Kapalua winner Zach Johnson topped the group at 65. He played at La Quinta.
"The greens over there are, I don't even know how to explain them, it's like carpet," Johnson said. "I mean, they're just so good. I don't know what they do over there, but they look artificial. They're like this every year, but they're as good as I've ever seen."
Keegan Bradley opened with a 69 at La Quinta in his first start of the year. He's fighting a cold and struggled with his distance control and accuracy.
"I'm still a little tired. Getting better every day," said Bradley, paired with Johnson the first three days. "I'm happy with today's round for the first round of the year."
Defending champion Brian Gay also had a 69 at La Quinta.