HONOLULU: Bae Sang-Moon shot a career low round on the USPGA Tour by firing a seven-under par 63 to seize a one-shot lead after the opening round of the Sony Open on Thursday.
South Korea’s Bae rolled in seven birdies in a bogey free round at the Waialae Country Club course.
“I think I played well last week [Tournament of Champions], but really tough greens,” said Bae. “Very hard to read. I couldn’t read any right- to-left putts so I missed a lot of putts last week.
“But this course is more shorter than last week, so easy to read, and I can make good speed, too.”
Bae’s playing partner American Chris Kirk shot six-under to take sole possession of second. Ryan Palmer and Brian Stuard are tied for third at 65.
Seven players share fifth at four-under 66, including two-time major champions John Daly and Retief Goosen of South Africa. Japan’s Hideto Tanihara also shot a 66.
World number two Adam Scott, South Korea’s K.J. Choi and Jason Dufner are part of a group tied for 12th at three-under 67.
Zach Johnson, who claimed last week’s Tournament of Champions, and Aussie Robert Allenby share 25th place with several others after carding a first-round 68.
Bae, of Kyunggi-do, got off to a rousing start by reeling off five birdies over his first nine holes. Bae dropped a seven-iron within three feet at the first, drained a 25-foot birdie on the third hole and kept up the superb play over his front nine.
Kirk started with bogeys at the third and sixth, but turned it around, notching four birdies in a five-hole span from the eighth.
“He was off to a great start,” Kirk said of Bae. “At one point he was four-under and I was still two-over. It took some catching up for me on the back nine. But it’s always nice to see putts falling.”
Bae cooled down on the back nine, but still rolled in a pair of birdies.
Bae has 11 international victories, including the 2011 Japan Open and the 2008 Korean Open.