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Three share first-round lead at Tournament of Champions

January 5, 2023; Maui, Hawaii, USA; Collin Morikawa putts on the 18th hole during the first round of the Sentry Tournament of Champions golf tournament at Kapalua Resort - The Plantation Course. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Collin Morikawa and J.J. Spaun each shot bogey-free rounds of 9-under-par 64 on Thursday, and they share the lead with Spain’s Jon Rahm after the opening round of the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Kapalua, Hawaii.

Rahm eagled the par-5 fifth hole on the Plantation Course at Kapalua, and he bogeyed the par-4 14th.

South Korea’s Tom Kim sits alone in fourth place at 8 under.

Tom Hoge, Aaron Wise, Scottie Scheffler, South Korea’s Sungjae Im, Canada’s Mackenzie Hughes and England’s Matt Fitzpatrick are tied for fifth at 7 under.

The Tournament of Champions, which includes 39 players, is the first of 17 designated PGA Tour events with elevated purses this year. In the past, this event was limited to players who won a tournament the previous year, but the 2023 field was expanded to feature players who did not win in 2022 but did reach the Tour Championship.

Morikawa was just 2 under par at the turn before reeling off six consecutive birdies. Following two pars, he closed with another birdie at the par-5 18th hole.

He credited the strong round to start the year in part to work with two new members of his team, putting coach Stephen Sweeney and chipping coach Parker McLachlin.

“It’s good to have someone that knows a lot about short game and you just kind of bounce ideas off,” Morikawa said of McLachlin.

As for his work with Sweeney, Morikawa said, “I just have answers. Before when I was putting, it was like guess work. I might have putted well today and then thought I was doing something, but in reality it was something else.”

Spaun’s round was highlighted by a string of four straight birdies in the middle of the back nine.

Spaun said of his initial round after the circuit’s holiday break, “The walk is kind of tough. My toes hurt, but it was a great first round for me out here on Tour and in competition. So, yeah, I can’t ask for anything more.”

Asked he ever experienced toe problems previously, he said, “I think this is … a first for me. Just all those uphills and then downhill, you’re really on the balls of your feet all day. …

“Walking downhill is almost just as hard. It’s like, you’re kind of like bracing yourself, so it’s hard. Tough life out here (smiling).”

Defending champion Cameron Smith of Australia is not in the field after jumping from the PGA Tour to LIV Golf.

–Field Level Media