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 Sony Open and taking the top two spots on the leaderboard after the opening round at Waialae Country Club.
Bae played bogey-free of a 7-under 63. Kirk shot 29 on the back nine at Waialae, including an eagle on the last hole, for a 64.
Ryan Palmer, coming off a week vacation in Maui, birdied the last two holes for a 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. They had a better-ball score of 56. There were only five holes where both of them had to settle for par.
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, John Daly and Warren JFK High graduate Jason Kokrak.
Kapalua winner Zach Johnson opened with two bogeys before he settled into a 68. Jordan Spieth, who finished one shot behind Johnson last week in the Tournament of Champions, reached 3-under through 10 holes until he was slowed by a three-putt bogey from 20 feet on No. 12. That was the start of three bogeys in four holes, and the 20-year-old Texan had to settle for a 70.
There are not two courses 100 miles apart in the same state on consecutive weeks on the PGA Tour any more different.
Kapalua was built on the side of a mountain, with severe grain in the greens and massive changes in elevation. Waialae is flat, tight and tree-lined with small greens.
“I think I played well last week, but really tough greens,” Bae said. “Very hard to read. I couldn’t read any right-to-left putts — any putts — so I missed a lot of puts last week. But this course is more shorter than last week, so easy read, and I can make good speed, too.”