Defending champion Russell Henley struggled to rediscover his successful form of early 2013 while Zach Johnson didn’t gain much ground in an attempt to win twice in as many weeks and Adam Scott played quietly without caddie Steve Williams during the first round of the Sony Open on Thursday.
Sang-Moon Bae, however, broke out of a slump with a 63 for the early lead at Waialae CC. Bae’s 7-under round, the best of the morning wave, held up through the afternoon. He leads Chris Kirk by a shot, with Ryan Palmer and Brian Stuard tied for third at 5 under.
Recap the highlights from the first-round action in Hawaii right here – and scroll down for more PGA Tour coverage this week leading up to the Sony Open:
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Update No. 26: 10:34 p.m. EST
Another player is taking full advantage of his finishing holes: Ryan Palmer goes birdie-birdie on Nos. 17-18 to rise to 5 under, T-3 alongside Brian Stuard and trailing only leader Sang-Moon Bae and Chris Kirk. Palmer had started his round with a bogey, but more than made up for it with three straight birdies on Nos. 4-6. The Texas A&M product won $1,521,592 and finished 46th in FedEx Cup points, his best showing a solo-fourth performance at the FedEx St. Jude Classic in June. Among his three career wins: the 2010 Sony Open.
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Update No. 25: 10:25 p.m. EST
It’s a shotmaking day at Waialae, the latest evidence coming from Toshinori Muto of Japan – as he holes out a pitch from about 40 yards to birdie the par-4 12th (mobile readers can see the video right here). That birdie got him back to 1 over, and he followed with a pair of pars. Muto missed the cut here in 2012, when he made his other three PGA Tour cuts (Open Championship, T-72; WGC-Bridgestone, T-67; WGC-HSBC Champions, T-69).
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Update No. 24: 10:12 p.m. EST
K.J. Choi, fresh off a new deal to play Srixon balls, sinks a birdie at the last for a 3-under 67. Choi, of South Korea, started his round steadily with eight pars before back-to-back birdies around the turn, a bogey at the 14th and birdies at the 16th and 18th. Choi finished 14th at the CIMB Classic on the heels of a 2013 season that saw him finish 62nd in FedEx Cup points and win $973,751.
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Update No. 23: 9:39 p.m. EST
Robert Streb wasn’t exactly having a bad day earlier at 1 over when he lined up his shot on No. 14 – and lined it up so well that he hit the flagstick (mobile readers can click here to see the video); the ball ricocheted well away from the hole. Tiger Woods, anyone? Fortunately for Streb, he limited the damage to a par and has just birdied No. 16 to get back to even for his round with two to play.
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Update No. 22: 9:26 p.m. EST
Brian Stuard birdies the last and gets to the clubhouse at 5 under, good for solo third as he signs for his 65. Stuard opened with four birdies in his first seven holes, then first got to 5 under at the 10th before a back-and-forth finish that included two bogeys and two birdies down the stretch.
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Update No. 21: 8:57 p.m. EST
Zach Johnson, last week’s winner at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions thanks in part to the above chip-in (mobile readers can see the video right here), is having a roller coaster of a round today. Johnson had bogeyed his first two holes to dig himself a hole right out of the gate; his birdie at No. 12 was his third in four holes and lifted him to 2 under. But the Drake product followed with a bogey to slip back to 1 under with five to play.
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Update No. 20: 8:26 p.m. EST
Brian Stuard again pulls within two shots of leader Sang-Moon Bae, a birdie at the 14th erasing his bogey a hole earlier and returning him to 5 under. That mark would give Stuard his fourth 65 of the season, his best number yet and once he’s got a chance to top today.
Jordan Spieth three-putts at the par-4 12th to slip to 2 under, five shots back of the lead.
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Update No. 19: 8:08 p.m. EST
Jordan Spieth pars the 11th after a long first putt comes up well short, but he remains 3 under and four back of the lead. Zach Johnson birdies back-to-back as he makes the turn at Nos. 9-10 to climb to 1 under.
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Update No. 18: 7:55 p.m. EST
Fantastic shot here from Kevin Foley, chipping in from 77 feet on the par-5 ninth en route to a 3-under 67 that has him T-9 as things stand (mobile viewers can see the video right here). Foley, a rookie this season who played collegiately at Penn State and last year won $148,652 on the Web.com Tour.
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Update No. 17: 7:36 p.m. EST
Brian Stuard more than overcomes a bogey at the eighth, following it with back-to-back birdies to move into third place at 5 under, within two shots of leader Sang-Moon Bae. Stuard, who played collegiately at Oakland, spoke with his alma mater in the fall about his 2013 season (mobile readers can see the video right here).
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Update No. 16: 7:12 p.m. EST
Zach Johnson is 1 over through six holes, opening with back-to-back bogeys and birdieing the fourth. Johnson won last week’s Hyundai Tournament of Champions across the state.
Jordan Spieth is 1 under through seven, his back-to-back birdies at the second and third cut in half by a bogey at the fourth. Spieth finished second last week at the TOC.
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Update No. 15: 6:49 p.m. EST
Brian Stuard has the hot hand, the lone afternoon player at T-3 and 4 under after birdieing the seventh. The Oakland University alum is eighth in FedEx Cup points with a runner-up at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in November and a T-15 at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open a month earlier; he finished the 2013 season 78th in FedEx Cup points with $1,032,028 in winnings.
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Update No. 14: 6:24 p.m. EST
Let’s take a look at the leaderboard with the morning groups wrapping things up:
- 1. Sang-Moon Bae, 7 under
- 2. Chris Kirk, 6 under.
- T-3. John Daly, 4 under.
- T-3. Harris English, 4 under.
- T-3. Retief Goosen, 4 under.
- T-3. Hideto Tanahara, 4 under.
- T-3. Jimmy Walker, 4 under.
Hard to say who’s more surprising between Daly and Goosen. The latter played nine events last year, finishing 171st in FedEx Cup points and winning $315,702; this year the South African has made two of three cuts and earned $29,608, though he posted a T-2 at the Franklin Templeton Shootout and won $242,500 there for his biggest paycheck stateside since a T-3 at the 2011 FedEx St. Jude Classic. Perhaps the 2001 and 2004 U.S. Open champion is on to something. (Scroll down for more about Daly.)
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Update No. 13: 6:11 p.m. EST
A couple of hot starts among the afternoon wave: Jason Kokrak and Brian Stuard are 3 under through five holes. Kokrak birdied three straight on Nos. 2-4, while Stuard birdied Nos. 2, 3 and 5.
Among the early groups still finishing up, Hideto Tanahara of Japan and Miguel Angel Carballo of Argentina are 4 under and 3 under respectively.
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Update No. 12: 6:06 p.m. EST
Defending champion Russell Henley is among the afternoon players who are off and running, starting his round with a pair of pars. The former Georgia Bulldogs standout got his week started in the air – touring Maui by helicopter (mobile readers can see the video right here). Henley will look to rekindle the form that had carried him to 24th in FedEx Cup points last season on the strength of a solid first half, as he’s only finished in the top 50 twice since a T-30 at The Greenbrier Classic to start July.
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Update No. 11: 5:53 p.m. EST
From the “Don’t look now, but . . .” files: With birdies at the 15th and 18th, John Daly fires off a 4-under 66 that has him in a five-way tie for third as things stand. Daly, whose longtime girlfriend Anna Cladakis recently celebrated a birthday, opened with seven straight pars and had just one bogey Thursday against five birdies. The Arkansas product, who had elbow surgery last year after withdrawing from The Greenbrier Classic, is making his first start of the season and finished 194th in FedEx Cup points last season with $43,543 won on the PGA Tour and another $2,145 in four Web.com Tour starts. Oh, and his recovery also included hitting a ball out of a man’s mouth.
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Update No. 10: 5:44 p.m. EST
Sang-Moon Bae did the bulk of his damage on Nos. 1-10 on his way to a bogey-free 63 that has him in the lead as he heads to the clubhouse. Coming off a T-21 finish in the 30-man field at last week’s Hyundai Tournament of Champions, Bae carded six birdies in those 10 holes and just one the rest of the way. The South Korean finished the 2013 season 36th in FedEx Cup points but is 130th this season.
Quite the opposite, Chris Kirk is in second after an eagle at the par-5 18th capped a 6-under back nine that vaulted him into contention. Kirk, who played collegiately at Georgia, was 2 over through seven holes in fact, with bogeys at the third and sixth – before carding three pairs of back-to-back birdies on the way to his round-capping three. Kirk won November’s McGladrey Classic and is fifth in FedEx Cup points, his worst finish of the season a T-36 at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in October.
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Update No. 9: 5:29 p.m. EST
As leader Sang-Moon Bae plays the 18th, Adam Scott finishes a quiet round with back-to-back birdies at Nos. 8-9 that lift him to 3 under, in an eight-man group at T-6 as Scott heads to the clubhouse. Coincidentally, T-6 is where Scott finished last week at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions – but if he’s to match that finish this week, it will be without caddie Steve Williams on the bag; a surfing buddy is filling in this week at Waialae.
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Update No. 8: 5:01 p.m. EST
As Sang-Moon Bae continues to hold a three-shot lead at 7 under, a group of eight have formed a logjam at T-4, four shots back, with a 12-man logjam T-12 at 2 under. Among them is Jason Dufner, who showed a little bit of distraction this morning before his round began – wishing he had a pro-wrestling robe, of all things:
He posted on his Twitter account, @JasonDufner: “I don’t care that Steve Smith is mad at Ric Flair for seeing the 49ers last week, I care that Steve Smith has a Ric Flair robe and I don’t”
Then he tried to barter a deal for one:
@JasonDufner: “@RicFlairNatrBoy let’s work a deal. For one of your robes, I will teach u how to hit laser like drives and iron shots on the golf course.”
Apparently a little distraction isn’t such a bad thing, as Dufner has spent the entire day under par and has one hole to play.
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Update No. 7: 4:42 p.m. EST
A birdie at Waialae’s No. 14 pushes leader Sang-Moon Bae to 7 under, his margin three shots over Russell Knox, who stands alone in second. William McGirt and Jimmy Walker are among five players another shot back at 3 under, with another 13 players at 2 under. In the latter group is Jeff Overton, who in this wraparound season has yet to finish worse than T-23 in his four made cuts among five starts. Overton plays on the Adams Golf staff, whose president John Ward spent time with Golfweek for a Q&A session that touched on the Ernie Els signing, product-development theories, the state of golf and more.
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Update No. 6: 4:14 p.m. EST
A foursome has built in second place at 4 under, two shots back of leader Sang-Moon Bae. Jim Herman and Russell Knox are making the turn, while William McGirt and Jimmy Walker have finished 16 and 14 holes respectively. Five players are another shot back, including Jason Dufner as he erases his bogey to return to 3 under with five holes to play.
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Update No. 5: 3:55 p.m. EST
Jason Dufner’s first bogey of the day comes at No. 2, dropping him to 2 under and four back of leader Sang-Moon Bae, but he quickly steadies himself with a par at No. 3. Dufner and his wife, Amanda, recently hiked the Hawaiian rainforest on the island of Maui and shared the experience via the PGA Tour’s channel on YouTube (mobile readers can see the video right here).
Bae’s lead has grown to two shots as William McGirt and Jimmy Walker carded bogeys at Nos. 14 and 4, respectively.
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Update No. 4: 3:35 p.m. EST
Back-to-back birdies at Nos. 9-10 lift Sang-Moon Bae into the lead outright at 6 under. Bae sure looks like he’s breaking out of last year’s late-season slump that he endured after winning the Byron Nelson Championship in May. The South Korean is bogey-free so far. At the par-3 11th, he hits it inside 15 feet but settles for par.
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Update No. 3: 3:03 p.m. EST
With a birdie at No. 18 as he makes the turn, Jimmy Walker moves into a share of the lead at 4 under alongside Sang-Moon Bae – and William McGirt, who also moves into the group of co-leaders with a birdie at No. 12, his third straight since making the turn. In October, while seeking to tighten his shot dispersion, Walker had shortened his driver shaft by half an inch.
At the same time, Pat Perez bogeys No. 3 to slip one shot back at 3 under; he’s alongside Russell Knox on that mark – and Jason Dufner, who birdies the par-5 No. 18 as he makes the turn. Twelve more players are another shot back at 2 under.
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Update No. 2: 2:47 p.m. EST
Sang-Moon Bae rejoins Pat Perez in the lead with a birdie at No. 6 to push him to 4 under, and follows with a par at No. 7.
Jason Dufner, meanwhile, has settled in with five straight pars after a hot start thanks to birdies at Nos. 10 and 12; the Auburn product’s scrambling effort from a fairway bunker at No. 16 kept him 2 under, followed by a long two-putt at the par-3 17th. The reigning PGA Championship victor has credited golf instructor Chuck Cook for helping elevate his game – and it’s no fluke, as Dufner is Cook’s seventh major-champ player.
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Update No. 1: 2:12 p.m. EST
Early co-leader Pat Perez takes the top spot outright as he makes the turn with a birdie at No. 18, moving to 4 under and pulling a shot ahead of Sang-Moon Bae and Jimmy Walker. It builds on his success here last season – with four rounds in the 60s as he finished T-9, the Arizona State product’s third top-10 finish in the Sony. Perez has four birdies and no bogeys as he heads to Waialae’s front nine.
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Pat Perez and Sang-Moon Bae lead at 3 under through eight and four holes respectively – with Jason Dufner among five golfers at 2 under in the early going.
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Matt Bettencourt and Ted Potter Jr. are enduring a rough start to 2014 at 4 over, through seven and six holes respectively. Kenny Perry is 3 over, with four more players at 2 over.
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There’s a 40 percent chance of rain today, with highs expected in the 80s, according to Weather.com; it’s 67 in the early going, with wind expected to pick up a bit during the next several hours.
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The WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship will be without a sponsor after next month’s event – and its future could include a later date and move from the desert, according to sources involved in the negotiations.
That Zach Johnson isn’t a major favorite was not the point to take home from his Tournament of Champions win; that he outplayed a quality leaderboard was surely cause for applause, no?
Jonas Blixt has every intention of giving it a go, but he understands it’s not going to be easy to maintain memberships on both the American and European tours.
Steve Williams won’t work Adam Scott’s bag this week at the Sony Open in Hawaii; Graeme McDowell reflects on a media award; an amateur legend with pro ties is remembered; plus more news and notes from senior writer Jim McCabe.
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You know his clothes and caps, those loud pieces with bright orange, lime and turquoise colors you might scoop into a cup at a sherbet shop, colors that allow you to sneak up on exactly no one. Rickie Fowler wants his game to stand out just as much in its own right.
Tiger Woods’ $83 million in earnings last year, $12 million of it on the course, has pushed him to more than $1.3 billion in his career, according to a report. Second for 2013: Phil Mickelson at $52 million.
The new signings keep coming for Callaway Golf. After already inking Henrik Stenson, Harris English and Pat Perez, among others, in the past few weeks, Callaway announced the signings of several more players on Monday and Tuesday, including 20-year-old Italian standout Matteo Manassero.
Lindsey Vonn will not compete in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, the injured skier announced Tuesday. That begs the following question in the world of golf: Does that open up Tiger Woods’ schedule to play more tournaments on the PGA Tour instead?
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