Sat, Jan 12, 2019 - Page 16 News List

Rookie Svensson edges Putnam for lead at Sony Open


Canadian rookie Adam Svensson on Thursday fired seven birdies and an eagle in a nine-under-par 61 to seize the first-round lead in the Sony Open in Hawaii by one stroke from Andrew Putnam.

Svensson’s capped his round at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu with a birdie at the par-five 18th to nip past early pacesetter Putnam, who had nine birdies and a bogey in his eight-under-par 62.

Veteran Matt Kuchar was alone in third in the tour’s first full-field event of this year after a bogey-free seven-under-par 63.

Svensson, a 25-year-old graduate of the developmental Tour, was four-under through nine holes after birdies at the fifth and sixth and an eagle at the ninth.

A 53-foot birdie putt at the 11th launched a string of four straight birdies that pulled him level with Putnam.

He grabbed the lead at the last hole with a 10-foot birdie.

Asked the key to his round, Svensson said: “My putting.”

“That armlock helped me out a lot today,” he added of the putting technique he has been using for about five months.

“My speed was great,” he said, adding that hitting 16 of 18 greens in regulation did not hurt. “I gave myself a lot of opportunities.”

Putnam set an early target, his eight-under round standing as the lead for most of the day.

Putnam needed just 23 putts, making 12 of 12 from 10 feet and rolling in birdie putts of 27, 21 and 28 feet during his round.

“The putter was hot,” said Putnam, a 29-year-old who claimed his first PGA Tour title at the Barracuda Championship in August last year.

“I don’t know how many feet I made of putts, but it was getting a little ridiculous,” he said. “The hole was very large and the ball was going in,”

Putnam said that putting was not the only key — the rest of his game was pretty good, too.

“I had a few mistakes here and there, but hit my irons great,” he said. “I left myself in pretty good spots.”

As Putnam was burning up the course, former world No. 1 Jordan Spieth slogged his way to a three-over 73.

“I went through a couple of different swings today,” said Spieth, who said before the tournament that he was hoping to knock a little rust off his game after a late-year layoff.

“I’m over the ball and not comfortable,” he added.

Spieth, who did not have a victory last year, said that he remained confident he could get back on track.

Shugo Imahira, who received a special invitation this week to play in this year’s Masters at Augusta National, led a seven-strong Japanese contingent with a 65 that put him tied for fourth with Americans Chez Reavie and Hudson Swafford.

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