Saturday, March 24, 2018

Bae opens PGA's Sony Open with lead

HONOLULU — Sang-Moon Bae got off to a great start in pristine conditions along the shores of Oahu. Chris Kirk had an ideal finish.

They were together all Thursday morning, playing in the same group at the PGA Tour's Sony Open and taking the top two spots on the leaderboard after the opening round at Waialae Country Club.

Bae played a bogey-free 7-under 63. Kirk shot 29 on the back nine, including an eagle on the last hole, for 64.

Ryan Palmer, coming off a week of vacation in Maui, birdied the last two holes for 65. Brian Stuard made eight birdies in his round of 65. Those were the best scores in the afternoon, when a full day of sunshine made the course play faster.

Bae and Kirk provided plenty of excitement in one group. There were only five holes where both of them had to settle for par.

"(Bae) was off to a great start," Kirk said. "At one point he was 4 under and I was still 2 over. It took some catching up for me on the back nine. But it's always nice to see putts falling."

Retief Goosen, finally feeling better after missing another big chunk of the year with back problems, slept awkwardly on his neck and was sore during the pro-am. That apparently healed quickly. He was in the group at 66 with Harris English, Jimmy Walker and John Daly.

Daly, 47, can only hope this isn't a false start. He had elbow surgery last summer and hopes his injuries are behind him. He made five birdies for his 66.

Bae, who won his first tour event last year at the Byron Nelson Championship, is coming up on three straight weeks in Hawaii. It was too cold in South Korea to practice, so he came to the islands Dec. 20 to practice and relax on the beach for two weeks before last week's Tournament of Champions.

He played Waialae about three or four times and feels like he knows the course better.

"I practiced a little bit and I had fun," he said. "Go to beach, go swim, everything. I like it here.."