Bae Sang-moon shot a career low round on the PGA Tour by firing a seven-under 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 [at the Tournament of Champions], but really tough greens,” Bae said. “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, Chris Kirk of the US, shot six-under to take sole possession of second place. Ryan Palmer and Brian Stuard were tied for third on 65.
Seven players shared 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 No. 2 Adam Scott, South Korea’s K.J. Choi and Jason Dufner were part of a group tied for 12th at three-under 67.
Zach Johnson, who claimed last week’s Tournament of Champions, and Australia’s Robert Allenby shared 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.