Kuchar two back as stars struggle at Sony
There were plenty of birdies during the opening round of the Sony Open, even if some of the field’s biggest names found them hard to come by. Here’s how things look after the first day in Honolulu, where Adam Svensson holds a PGA Tour lead for the first time:
Leaderboard: Adam Svensson (-9), Andrew Putnam (-8), Matt Kuchar (-7), Shugo Imahira (-5), Chez Reavie (-5), Hudson Swafford (-5)
What it means: Putnam was the clear strength of the early wave, finishing four shots better than any of the morning starters at Waialae. But the afternoon yielded better scores, headed by the Canadian Svensson, who started the week ranked 444th in the world. One of the few proven winners among the chase pack, Kuchar has already won this season, has a strong record on Oahu and sits just two shots off the pace.
Round of the day: Svensson is off to a slow start this season, having ended the fall with three straight missed cuts. But he turned over a new leaf in his first round of 2019 with a bogey-free 61 that included an eagle on the par-5 ninth to go along with seven birdies. Svensson is making just the 12th start of his Tour career, but he now finds himself out in front of the first full field of the new year.
Full-field scores from the Sony Open in Hawaii
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Best of the rest: Putnam broke through for his first career victory in August at the Barracuda Championship, but Thursday he showed that his prowess is not limited to Stableford scoring. After carding five birdies on the front nine, he added four more on the inward half en route to an 8-under 62, as he looks to add a second trophy to his mantle.
Biggest disappointment: Whatever drove Jordan Spieth to add Sony to his schedule, he didn’t find it in the opening round. Spieth struggled mightily on the tiny greens at Waialae, making just one birdie en route to a 3-over 73 that left him in danger of a missed cut. But he wasn’t the only big name who got out of the gates slowly. The 2017 winner, Justin Thomas, had a messy back nine before a closing eagle, while Bryson DeChambeau sits outside the top 50 following a 1-under 69.
Main storyline heading into Friday: Regardless of his position on the leaderboard, there’s still a fascination with how Spieth plays this week. Added starts in the fall in Las Vegas and Mexico didn’t provide any sort of spark, and now the three-time major champ could be staring at an early exit on a course and at an event where he’s supposed to be able to rack up birdies by the handful. The circumstances make his second-round effort one to watch.
Quote of the day: “The first hole today I tapped one in with the flagstick (in), and it didn’t feel right doing that.” – Spieth