Defending champion Kevin Na failed in his bid to break 60 in the first round of the Sony Open in Hawaii on Thursday, but he still ended the day with a one-shot lead.
Na shot a 9-under-par 61 at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu to sit one stroke ahead of Jim Furyk and Russell Henley. Furyk’s round included a hole-in-one.
Kevin Chappell, Patton Kizzire, Michael Thompson, China’s Haotong Li and Ireland’s Seamus Power are tied for fourth at 63. Tyler Duncan, J.T. Poston, Ryan Palmer, Matt Kuchar, Jason Kokrak and two Canadians, Corey Conners and Adam Svensson, share ninth place at 64.
Na was at 8 under par through 12 holes, but he then parred five holes in a row before closing with a birdie.
“I played unbelievably well,” he said. “I did everything well today and my iron play was amazing. My distance control has been great.
“I had a chance for a 59. I gave it all I could. I’m a little disappointed my putts didn’t fall, some of the good putts that I hit didn’t fall. But it’s still a good round.”
Na, who hopes to become the first player to win the Sony Open in back-to-back years since Jimmy Walker in 2014-15, made four birdies in a five-hole stretch on the front nine, then added a 6-foot eagle putt on No. 9. After logging birdies on two of the first three holes on the back nine, Na began his par streak.
Furyk, 51, went on a spectacular run late in his round. He made birdies at Nos. 14, 15 and 16, then logged an ace on the par-3 17th hole. Furyk’s 6-iron shot found the cup from 187 yards out.
“I thought I was in between clubs but (caddie Michael “Fluff” Cowan) assured me it was a 6-iron for me, it was the right club and I had it teed up a little bit trying to get the ball in the air and hit down on it,” Furyk said. “Caught it just a smidge high in the face. …
“I wasn’t quite sure I caught enough of it to cover it. And carried on the green probably 2 or 3 yards and landed in a perfect spot and then released towards the pin. I guess that’s kind of the line I was looking. You never want to miss that green right. Want to make sure I hit it solid to cover.”
Furyk, who now plays primarily on the Champions Tour, hadn’t recorded a hole-in-one since the 2011 World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational.
“Just because I’m getting close to 52, I didn’t come over here to pack it in and have a vacation,” he said. “I want to play well.”
Henley registered five birdies on the front nine and three on the back nine in a bogey-free round.
Australia’s Cameron Smith, who won the Tournament of Champions last week in Kapalua, Hawaii, is tied for 40th place at 67.
–Field Level Media