Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Jason Kokrak leads Northern Trust Open in search of 1st win

Jason Kokrak is starting to figure out how to play Riviera Country Club. 

On Friday at the Northern Trust Open, Kokrak had his best round yet on Hogan's Alley near Los Angeles, shooting 7-under 64 in a round in which he birdied all of the par 5s on the course.

"It's been a struggle to learn how to play this golf course," said Kokrak, who is at 10-under 132. "It's old school. It's very hard. But it's right there in front of you. If I can hit the driver a little bit straighter and keep it in the fairway, it's a huge advantage for me."

The long-hitting Kokrak hasn't finished inside the top 30 in four previous Northern Trust Open starts. However, this course does lend itself nicely to longer players who can find the fairway. Just look at Kokrak's pursuers. While Chez Reavie is a shot behind at 9 under par, Bubba Watson and Dustin Johnson lurk along with Troy Merritt in a tie for third two back of Kokrak. Then there's a large group of players at 6 under par, including Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott, guys who don't lack for length.

If the 30-year-old Canadian-born Kokrak is to get his first PGA Tour win this weekend, he's going to have to get past a gauntlet of equally long, better credentialed players.

However, Kokrak won't have to deal with the likes of Jordan Spieth this weekend. After Spieth opened with 8-over 79 on Thursday, the world No. 1 shot 68 on Friday that left him five off the cut line. 

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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