• Humana Challenge

In-form Johnson two off the pace in California

ESPN staff
January 17, 2014
Johnson has three wins in his previous seven starts © Getty Images

Humana Challenge leaderboard

Zach Johnson, the highest-ranked player in the field, carded a bogey-free round of 65 to sit just two off the pace at the Humana Challenge.

The world No. 6 tops a group of seven players at 7-under par trailing leader Patrick Reed, who fired a flawless 63 round at La Quinta's PGA West course.

Ryan Palmer, Justin Hicks, Daniel Summerhays and Charley Hoffman are at 8-under, but Johnson made it quite clear he is in the mood to add to his Tournament of Champions victory from two weeks ago.

"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."

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Johnson's win at Kapalua was his 11th PGA Tour victory. Dating to his rookie season in 2004, only Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh have more Tour victories.

"It means that I'm doing something right," he added. "It means I've got a great team and we have got a great vision. I think it also means that I'm really never content with where I'm at. I'm always trying to improve."

Reed, 23, who's maiden Tour victory came at the Wyndham Championship in August, was also full of praise for the Arnold Palmer-designed course.

"It's in perfect shape," he said. "The rough isn't very high, the fairways are perfect and the greens are rolling very true. That's the main thing to being successful out here is with how great the conditions are, that if you're hitting putts on line, they're going to go in, no matter what."

Keegan Bradley, making his first start of the season, opened with a 69, but revealed 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, while Rickie Fowler opened his season with a 4-under 68.

Ryder Cup star Nicolas Colsaerts and Brandt Snedeker, recovering from injury caused in a Segway accident, are at level par, but it was a day to forget for 2008 Masters champion Trevor Immelman, who slumped to a 7-over 79 to sit dead last.

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