Sat, Oct 11, 2014 - Page 18 News List

Bae, Gonzales share the lead in California

AFP, NAPA, California

South Korea’s Bae Sang-moon hits his tee shot on the seventh hole during the first round of the Open in Napa, California, on Thursday.

Photo: AFP

South Korea’s Bae Sang-moon fired seven birdies with one bogey in a six-under 66 on Thursday to join Andres Gonzales of the US at the top of the Open leaderboard.

In the first event of the PGA Tour’s 2014-2015 season, Bae and Gonzales topped a tightly packed leaderboard. They were one shot in front of Scotland’s Martin Laird, who had five birdies with no bogeys in his five-under 66 at the Silverado Resort’s North Course.

Gonzales, starting his third year on the PGA Tour, has just one top-10 finish in 44 career starts. He has won on the developmental tour and believes he has the game to succeed on the PGA Tour.

“I’ve always felt that I’ve been good enough to be at this level, whether or not I’ve proven that each year,” said Gonzales, whose seven birdies included two in a row to finish. “I’ve felt that each year I have improved each year.”

Bae, owner of one PGA Tour title, birdied his last three holes — and four of his last five — to grab a share of the lead in the afternoon.

“I had a really, really good round, a pretty solid round, and I made a lot of putts and just one bogey today,” Bae said. “It was a pretty nice round.”

Bae said keeping the ball in the fairway is crucial at Silverado, hosting the event that was held at CordeValle Golf Club in San Martin, California, last year.

Brooks Koepka of the US, who finished third last year at CordeValle, was among eight players sharing fourth place on 68. The group also included Australian Aaron Baddeley, South Africa’s Tyrone van Aswegen and Sweden’s David Lingmerth.

Defending champion Jimmy Walker struggled to a first-round 75.

Among Walker’s US Ryder Cup teammates teeing it up 10 days after the US fell to Europe in the biennial matchplay showdown in Scotland, Hunter Mahan carded a two-under 70 and Matt Kuchar posted a 71.

England’s Lee Westwood, also playing after Ryder Cup duty for Europe, opened with a 73.

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