LOS ANGELES — Dustin Johnson moved down the coast of California and brought his game with him Thursday in the Northern Trust Open.
So did Jimmy Walker.
Johnson made six birdies on a warm, sunny day at Riviera for a 5-under 66, giving him a 1-shot lead when the opening round was suspended by darkness. Walker birdied his last three holes and was in the large group at 67 that included Francesco Molinari of Italy and Torrey Pines winner Scott Stallings.
Four days ago, Johnson closed with a 66 in the gray, cold weather of Pebble Beach to finish one shot behind Walker. In conditions that could not have been any different — and could not have been any better — he made birdie on all of the par 5s at Riviera and only had one bogey on his card, at the long par-3 fourth.
Walker, whose victory in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am was his third of the season. He drove his RV down from the Monterey Peninsula, got up at 4:30 a.m. Wednesday to appear on Golf Channel, and then went right back to work. Walker was in the middle of the pack until his tee shot on the par-3 16th settled just over a foot from the cup. He nearly reached the par-5 17th in two to set up a simple birdie and finished with one of his best shots — an 8-iron from 184 yards out of a flyer lie in the rough to the back of the green and a 30-foot putt.
Johnson isn't playing a lot this season but when he does, he plays well.
He already has a win at the HSBC Champions in Shanghai. He shared the 54-hole lead at Kapalua and tied for sixth and then took off four weeks before returning at Pebble Beach. That was a good sign for Johnson, who said he doesn't have a good history of playing well in the first event after a long break.