Matt Kuchar goes long and steady for Round 1 Phoenix lead

Thousands came out for opening night at the Bird's Nest

Another gain came An's way on the 17th, lifting him to 16 under, but Martin Laird picked up shots on 13, 14 and 18 to match his playing partner's third-round score and sit just a solitary stroke off the pace. He responded to that brief moment of adversity with four straight birdies and closed his day with three more birdies over the final six holes.

Matt Kuchar on Thursday caught fire on the back nine, firing a seven-under 64 for a one-shot first-round lead over defending champion Hideki Matsuyama and Brendan Steele at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Kuchar made a 20-foot eagle putt on the 13th, and ran in a 6-footer for birdie on the par-5 15th.

Hideki Matsuyama, of Japan, hits from the 18th fairway during the second round of the Phoenix Open golf tournament, on February 3, 2017, in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Louis Oosthuizen, hurt by a double bogey at 18, is at 7-under, along with Rickie Fowler and Michael Kim, heading into the weekend.

Last year's victor told "I wish I knew why I play well here, but I did hit the ball very well today ... a lot of good shots".

Attendees came out for the music and to have a good time
Thousands came out for opening night at the Bird's Nest. Attendees came out for the music and to have a good time

Twenty-six of the top 30 in the current FedExCup standings are in the field, led by Thomas, who has won three times already this season and the past two events in which he's teed it up.

In his three appearances in this tournament, Matsuyama has finished tied for fourth, second and first.

Saturday was a good day for Phil Mickelson and Jordan Spieth.

His compatriot Ryo Ishikawa shot a 3-over 74 and missed the cut by one stroke. "I was just trying to hit shots and I wasn't doing a very good job", Woods said.

Justin Thomas gained the loudest roar of the day at 16 when he nearly holed his tee shot, tapping in for birdie en route to a two-under 69.

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