Matt Kuchar made a mess of the easiest hole at Riviera. He couldn't find the fairway and felt he was on the defensive all afternoon Friday in the Genesis Invitational.
He was good enough with the short irons that Kuchar still managed a 2-under 69 and built a two-shot lead over Rory McIlroy and two others going into the weekend at Riviera.
"It definitely wasn't my best stuff today," Kuchar said. "Two under was an awfully good score for the way I drove it."
Tiger Woods happily would have taken a score like that. Instead, he made his bid for a first victory at Riviera and a record 83rd title on the PGA Tour a lot tougher. Two swings with a wedge wound up costing Woods three shots, and his 73 left him nine shots behind.
"I made some pretty bad mistakes out there," Woods said.
He can't afford any more, not with 44 players ahead of him, including past champions like Adam Scott and Dustin Johnson, and players who would desperately like to add their name to the list of winners at this historic club.
McIlroy, in his return to No. 1 in the world, handled the par 5s and kept mistakes to a minimum in his round of 67, which puts him in the final group Saturday with Kuchar and Harold Varner III, who had a 68 in the morning.
Kuchar was at 9-under 135. He began with a bogey on the par-5 opening hole, one of only two players in the 121-man field to not make par or better. Kuchar went long of the green, took two chips to get on the green and missed a 15-foot par putt.
"You feel like you've already given up two shots on the day. Never a fun way to start," Kuchar said. "But knowing there's 17 holes to go, there's still room to figure it out."
Wyndham Clark had a 68 and joined McIlroy and Varner in the group two shots behind.
"I'm managing my game well," McIlroy said. "I've hit a couple loose shots here and there, but I'm thinking my way around the golf course and that's what this place is all about. You can hit a few squirrelly shots and get away with it as long as you miss it in the right places, and for the first couple days I've done that. I'm feeling pretty good about my game."
Scott has a trophy from Riviera, just not an official victory. He won in 2005 when there was so much rain the tournament was reduced to 36 holes, and he won in a playoff Monday.
He returned from a two-month break with a 7-under 64 that left him three shots behind. Scott hasn't played since he won the Australian PGA Championship three days before Christmas.
"You're never quite sure coming off eight weeks how it's going to feel, but I was really hitting the ball out of the middle of the club," Scott said. "That gave me a bit of confidence to just kind of keep doing what I'm doing and it'll all fall into place rather than go in search for what I'm doing wrong."
Woods didn't have to search long to figure out his errors.
He started well enough with a smart choice to hit iron on the reachable par-4 10th because of the back right pin position, a wedge into about 12 feet and a birdie. And he was never in too much trouble. The 15th hole did not appear to present any problems, especially after Woods crushed a 335-yard drive to the middle of the fairway.
He hung his head immediately after a chunked pitching wedge that plugged into the bunker short of the green, leaving no shot to a front pin. He blasted that through the green, chipped back to 7 feet and missed putt for double bogey.
"I just hit it fat," he said. "Honestly, I was just trying to cut a little wedge in there and get it up in the air."
After two birdies on the par 5s around the turn — Nos. 17 and 1 — Woods gave away another shot with sand wedge from light rough into the front bunker on No. 3 for bogey. He bogeyed the par-3 fourth, and then he three-putted from about 50 feet up the slope on the par-3 sixth.
Johnson, who won big at Riviera three years ago, bounced back from his opening 72 with a 66 and was among those five shots behind. Brooks Koepka had a 73 and was nine shots behind.
At least they're still playing.
Justin Thomas opened with a 74 and never got anything going in the morning. He didn't make a birdie until his 16th hole and shot 71, missing the cut for the second time in his last three starts. Phil Mickelson, coming off a pair of third-place finishes in Saudi Arabia and Pebble Beach, shot 74 and missed the cut for the third time this year.
Tiger Woods is among four players from the top 10 who are skipping the Mexico Championship next week, a World Golf Championships event with no cut and a $10.5 million purse.
Woods, who tied for 10th last year at Chapultepec Golf Club but was never in serious contention, did not offer a reason and was vague when asked about his schedule this week. He shot 73 in the morning at the Genesis Invitational, where he is the tournament host.
"I've been so busy with this event and trying to deal with all the little things that I haven't really focused on next week," Woods said.
Brooks Koepka is skipping for the second time in three years, the first time by choice. He had a wrist injury in 2018, and Koepka will be playing his hometown Honda Classic the following week.
Also skipping Mexico City from the top 10 are Justin Rose for the second straight year and Patrick Cantlay, who is having elective surgery on his septum next week to be ready for The Players Championship and the weeks leading to the Masters.
Three other players from the top 50 are not playing — Rickie Fowler is missing for the first time, Henrik Stenson is missing for the second time in three years. and Jason Day has never played in the Mexico Championship.
Koepka, Rose and Stenson have not finished among the top 25, while Fowler's best result was a tie for 16th.
Jordan Spieth, meanwhile, decided to play after his tie for ninth last week at Pebble Beach moved him back into the top 50.
Woods will have played only twice going into the Florida Swing that begins his run to the Masters, at Torrey Pines and Riviera. Still unclear is his schedule leading to Augusta National.
He skipped the Honda Classic last year. He was planning to play at Bay Hill last year until taking a week off with nagging pain in the neck area. A year ago, he played The Players Championship and Match Play before going to the Masters, where he won for his 15th major.
The field will not be set until Monday. Players still can qualify through the top 50 in the world ranking or the top 10 in the FedEx Cup standings.
Md Ramu Babu and Samsul Alam become joint champions and Harun-Or-Rashid and Mirza Monir become runner-up in the annual sports competition of Jatir Janak Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Hall of Dhaka University.
Dhaka University Pro-Vice Chancellor (Administration) Professor Dr Muhammad Samad inaugurated the competition. The event was held at the central playground of the university on Friday.
After the competition, DU Treasurer Prof Dr Md Kamal Uddin distributed prizes among winners.
Hall Provost Prof Dr Md Mofizur Rahman, President of DU Athletics Committee Prof Dr Md Nizamul Hoque Bhuiyan, Advisor of Physical Education Centre Prof Dr Asim Sarkar, Director (Acting) of the centre Md Shahjahan Ali, house tutors and students of the hall were present on this occasion.
Tokyo Olympic organizers and the International Olympic Committee said Friday there is no "Plan B" for the 2020 Games, which open in just over five months and have been jolted by the outbreak of a virus in neighboring China.
The coronavirus has infected almost 64,000 people globally with almost 1,400 deaths in China, but only one in Japan where fear is rising with so much attention focused on the outbreak.
"Certainly the advice we're received externally from the WHO (World Health Organization) is that there's no case for any contingency plans or cancelling the games or moving the games," John Coates, the head of an IOC inspection team, said to wrap up a two-day visit that was dominated by the virus issue.
Coates and Tokyo Olympic organizers took 11 questions at a news conference on Friday. All 11 were about the virus, or the presence of Chinese athletes in 19 remaining test events in Japan, or about Chinese fans, or repeated questions seeking reassurance the games will go ahead as planned.
A Japanese reporter asked Tokyo organizing committee President Yoshiro Mori if, given the fact the games are going ahead, would there be any "organizational changes" in how the games are run.
"No, at this stage, no. We are not thinking of any such possibility," said Mori, a former Japanese prime minister, speaking in Japanese.
Mori, Coates and CEO Toshiro Muto looked glum sitting at a head table taking essentially the same question over and over.
"We can confirm that Tokyo 2020 remains on track," Coates said in his opening statement.
Coates was asked by a CNN reporter if he was 100% confident that the Tokyo Olympics would go on as scheduled and open on July 24.
"Yes," he replied.
Coates talked positively about keeping a close watch on Chinese athletes, and talked optimistically about their eventual presence in Tokyo, where they would probably field a team of 600 athletes — one of the largest delegations.
"We continue also to monitor, particularly the Chinese that will be coming here," Coates said. "You'll find that the Chinese teams are mostly out of China. That's the athletes and officials."
He didn't offer any specific numbers.
Others away from the Olympic circle are uncertain what course the virus outbreak will take.
"Frankly speaking, there is no guarantee that the outbreak will come to an end before the Olympics because we have no scientific basis to be able to say that," Shigeru Omi, a former regional director of the WHO and an infectious disease expert from Japan, said Thursday.
"So it is meaningless to predict a timing when it may come to an end," he added. "We should assume that the virus has already been spreading in Japan. People should understand that we cannot only rely on border controls to prevent the spread of the disease."
Mark Woolhouse, a professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh, told The Associated Press in an email: "I don't think anyone right now can confidently predict the state of affairs come late summer."
"One slight word of caution," he added. "Influenza is regarded as a winter infection in the northern hemisphere. But when we encountered a new strain in 2009-10 — pandemic strain, or swine flu — we did see cases in the summer months."
That is not particularly good news, where many talk of the hot, humid Tokyo summer taking its toll on the virus.
The AP requested but was declined an interview with Dr. Richard Budgett, the IOC's medical and scientific director who was in Tokyo for the meetings.
The dynamic growth of the Olympics makes any schedule change difficult.
About 73% of the IOC's $5.7 billion revenue in a four-year Olympic cycle comes from broadcasting rights from networks like NBC and NHK in Japan. Moving the Olympics back even two months would clash in North America with a full plate of sports broadcasts: NFL, NBA, baseball, and college football.
There is also the matter of millions of tickets sold, flights and hotels booked, and $3 billion in local sponsorship sold in Japan with advertisers expecting some results for their expenditure.
A reporter for the Chinese news agency Xinhua asked if Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba — a major Olympic sponsor — would be free to come to the Olympics despite the fact he is from one of the two provinces has been the most severely affected by the virus.
"Depends where he'll be holidaying before he comes here," Coates said, cracking one of the few jokes of the night. "Whoever it is has to comply with the rules of the Japanese (immigration) authorities."
Jayson Tatum didn't want to smile. But sometimes the moment calls for it.
The Celtics were trailing 124-123 in the final minute of overtime in their back-and-forth slugfest with the Clippers and Tatum found himself defended by Landry Shamet and Montrezl Harrell. Tatum hesitated, sidestepped Shamet, then spun around Harrell for a layup. As the crowd cheered around him, Tatum led out a loud yell, flexing his arms.
The play didn't win the game and gave Tatum just two of the 39 points he scored in Boston's thrilling 141-133 double-overtime win on Thursday night. But it's the latest sign that the first-time All-Star is getting more comfortable as a go-to player.
"I did get a little excited," Tatum said. "I try to be as calm as I can and try to keep a poker face and move on to the next play. But basketball is a game of emotions and the crowd was into it."
Marcus Smart added 31 points and Gordon Hayward finished with 21 points and 13 rebounds. Kemba Walker had 19 points and nine rebounds. Tatum and Smart combined for 16 of Boston's 27 points in the overtime periods.
The Celtics have won seven straight at home and eight of their last nine overall.
The Clippers played most of the game without Paul George, who left in the second quarter with a left hamstring strain. Lou Williams led Los Angeles with 35 points. Kawhi Leonard had 28 points and 11 rebounds, and Harrell finished with 24 points and 13 rebounds.
George played 15 minutes, scoring four points on 2-of-7 shooting before heading to the locker room.
The first meeting between the teams on Nov. 20 was also decided in overtime. The Clippers held on for a 107-104 win.
The Celtics took a 134-130 lead in the second OT on a driving layup by Smart and another by Tatum.
"He's more assertive," Leonard said of Tatum. "They are trusting him and he is trusting himself."
Harrell got a dunk on the Clippers' next trip up the floor. But Hayward responded with a 3 to increase Boston's lead to 137-132.
Tatum was called for an offensive foul, but Hayward blocked a runner by Williams off his body to force the turnover with 55 seconds left.
Hayward hit four free throws in the final minute to help close it out.
Tatum said he left the court feeling relief.
"I'm just happy we won," he said. "That would have been tough playing that hard as a team and not coming out with a victory."
The All-Star break comes at a perfect time for both teams as they try to get healthy.
Clippers guard Patrick Beverley missed his fourth straight game with a sore right groin. The Celtics played without Jaylen Brown, who has a left calf contusion.
Smart started in place of Brown and scored the Celtics' first 10 points, digging them out of an early 7-0 deficit. Smart and Tatum combined for 24 of Boston's 30 first-quarter points. It helped offset a 15-point opening period by Leonard.
Boston limited Leonard to two points in the second quarter but had no answers on the inside for Harrell, who had 16 points in the first half on 5-of-5 shooting from the field.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers said he likes his team's position heading into the break.
"We're good," Rivers said. "We've had a first half of the season where basically we've had more starting lineups than anybody in the league. Our record's pretty solid. We gotta get healthy. That's the key for us. We gotta get healthy."
Clippers: Had a 65-19 advantage in bench scoring.
Celtics: Tatum and Smart had all 13 of Boston's points in the first overtime.
BACK AND FORTH
A 3-pointer by Marcus Morris gave the Clippers a 122-118 lead in the first extra period. But the Celtics responded and took a 125-124 lead when Tatum split a pair of defenders for a layup with 53.8 seconds left.
Leonard missed a short jumper and Tatum scored again off feed from Walker with 24.8 seconds remaining.
Landry Shamet tied it again with a 3-pointer, giving the Celtics the ball back with 21 seconds left. Tatum got off a 27-footer but came up empty.
CELTICS TO RETIRE GARNETT'S JERSEY
During the game's first timeout, the Celtics surprised fans with a video presentation to announce Kevin Garnett's No. 5 will be retired during the 2020-21 season. It will hang in the open space next to the No. 34 of teammate Paul Pierce, who alongside Garnett led Boston to its most recent title in 2008.
Pierce's jersey was retired by the Celtics in 2018. Garnett, in his first year in eligibility for the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, is expected to be on the list of finalists when it it is unveiled during NBA All-Star Weekend in Chicago.