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NORTHERN TRUST OPEN NOTES

Blayne Barber off to good start in PGA Tour debut

Barber is at two under par after 15 holes of the Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club. Play is suspended because of darkness and fog.

February 14, 2013|By Chris Dufresne and Bill Dwyre
  • PGA Tour rookie Blayne Barber tees off at No. 2 during the first round of the Northern Trust Open on Thursday at Riviera Country Club.
PGA Tour rookie Blayne Barber tees off at No. 2 during the first round of the… (Jeff Gross / Getty Images )

He's hanging in there: Blayne Barber, making his PGA Tour debut at Riviera, was sitting at two under par through 15 holes Thursday when play was suspended because of darkness and fog.

Barber is one of this week's most intriguing stories. The rookie from Auburn disqualified himself from Q-school last fall after determining he should have assessed himself a two-stroke penalty during play in the first phase. Barber had called a one-stroke penalty thinking he may have hit a leaf on his backswing.

Barber earned one of four available spots into the Northern Trust Open the hard way … through local qualifying. He shot a 66 last week in a pre-qualifier at Morongo Country Club and followed with a 65 on Monday at Industry Hills.

Barber, playing in the last group in Thursday's first round, was tied for 18th place when play was suspended.

"I didn't sleep a whole lot last night," Barber said on eve of his first PGA start.

Barber played Riviera last June when the course hosted the NCAA championships. Barber finished tied for seventh and then turned pro.

"I love it," he said of the course. "I feel that it suits me pretty well."

The tee times are a changing

Brandt Jobe will turn 48 in August. He has been around long enough to have an interesting perspective on the new generation of tour players.

"So much has changed in the last four years," he said. "These new kids, they have no fear. They just bomb it. They dress goofy and they don't care. They have a flair and they are better players than we were when we were just getting started."

So you think this is easy?

Leading a list of players roughed up by Riviera was Aaron Baddeley, the 2011 Northern Trust champion, who shot seven-over 78 in his opening round.

Bubba Watson, the defending Masters champion, fired six-over 77. Three-time major champion Padraig Harrington also shot 77, and Dustin Johnson finished at five-over 76.

Two-time winner Corey Pavin, playing on a sponsor's exemption, hobbled home at four-over 75, as did Vijay Singh and John Huh.

Earlier this week at Riviera, Huh was honored for being named 2012 PGA Tour rookie of the year. Huh earned $2.6 million his first year on tour and won his first PGA event.

Three of last year's four major winners are playing this week at Riviera. The only man missing is PGA Champion Rory Mcllroy. In addition to Watson, Ernie Els (British) and Webb Simpson (U.S. Open) both finished at one-under 70.

Lee Westwood, playing near Westwood, is feeling more like home. His three-under 68 was his best opening round in seven Northern Trust Open starts. His best finish was tied for fifth in 2006.

chris.dufresne@latimes.com

bill.dwyre@latimes.com

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