PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. - John F. Kennedy graduate Jason Kokrak birdied five holes on Wednesday in first-round play at Pebble Beach to finish tied at 41st with a 2-under 68.
Kokrak bogeyed two holes on his first nine, but gathered himself to birdie three out of five holes on his next nine. He put himself in striking distance of the cut with pars on his final three holes.
"I hit it well today. No individual shots that were great today," Kokrak said. "I made one putt from 35 feet that got my confidence up with the putter so hopefully we can get the flat stick working and we will have some very low scores. I'm still hitting it well but the putter is the great equalizer. I had two three-putts today which were two of the bogeys. The bogey on one was just a short missed putt. I feel good to be at 2 under, which could have been a lot more under par. I feel good about where my game is, and the putter is coming around this week. I just have to continue to work hard and things will change for the better. My game off the tee was good today, nothing special, but good in the latter part of my round."
He will tee off today at 8:33 a.m. Pacific time.
On a spectacular day of scenery and scoring, Dustin Johnson blasted a tee shot on the third hole at Pebble Beach and then pitched in for eagle from 41 yards in front of the green. He added another eagle on his way to a 9-under 63 and a three-way tie atop the leaderboard Thursday.
Tiger Woods was five shots to par out of the lead, a solid start to his PGA Tour season. He had six birdies in a 4-under 68 at Spyglass Hill, the fourth-best score on that course. Spyglass was hardest of the three courses, though not by much.
Kokrak added that playing with big-name celebrities and athlets in the pro-am competition hasn't affected him.
"The celebs this week aren't too much of a distraction," he said. "It is kind of funny seeing some of them golf, but it's cool to be around some of these guys. We look up to them, and they look up to us. I like Pebble and the courses out here, and seeing these courses already gives me confidence going into the next two days. So far I have enjoyed all the venues on the PGA Tour, so each place has its good and bad qualities."