PGA Tour

Morikawa grabs early Sony Open lead at windy Waialae

2020-01-10 06:45
Collin Morikawa
Collin Morikawa (Getty Images)

Los Angeles - Rising US star Collin Morikawa defied strong winds sweeping across Waialae Country Club to seize a two-stroke first-round lead on Thursday in the PGA Tour's Sony Open.

Morikawa, 22, made the most of the experience he gained playing at windswept Kapalua in last week's Tournament of Champions, firing five birdies in a five-under par 65 - an impressive effort in tough conditions in Honolulu.

"Really good," said Morikawa, who finished the day two shots in front of Australian Matt Jones and Americans Ted Potter, Ryan Palmer and Sam Ryder.

With Morikawa safely in the clubhouse, Ryder applied the most pressure, reeling off four straight birdies at 16, 17, 18 and the first to reach four-under.

He gave a stroke back with a bogey at the second, but was four-under with five to play after a birdie at the fourth - his 13th hole of the day.

Ryder's charge ground to a halt with bogeys at the seventh, where he was unable to get up and down from a greenside bunker, and the eighth, before a closing birdie boosted him back into the group sharing second.

Jones and Palmer both moved to 67 with back-to-back closing birdies. Potter nabbed his fifth and final birdie of the day at his last hole, the ninth.

"It blew, it gusted a lot and it was tough to judge your distances," Jones said of the unusually strong winds that wreaked havoc on the scenic Hawaiian course. "But I kept the ball low, kept it in play and I think I hit a fair few greens - which was my goal today."

Morikawa said he could have hit his driver better, but he was impressive with his long irons and solid on the greens.

"I didn't make too many putts, but I made the ones I needed," he said.

Morikawa - who turned pro in June and grabbed his first PGA Tour title at the Barracuda Championship in Reno, Nevada, in July - has already reached 55th in the world rankings.

He teed off on 10 and picked up birdies at 11 and 18, then added birdies at the fourth and fifth before capping his round with a seven-foot birdie putt at the ninth.

On a day when scores soared - Tournament of Champions winner Justin Thomas had to settle for a two-over-par 72 - New Zealand's Tim Wilkinson briefly got to four-under before settling for a two-under par 68.

He shared sixth place with Australians Marc Leishman and Cameron Davis, South African-born Slovakian Rory Sabbatini, Canadian Corey Conners, and Americans Patrick Rodgers, Brian Harman, Pat Perez, Brendan Steele and Brendon Todd.

"That was pretty brutal," said Leishman, whose four top-20 finishes at Waialae since 2013 include a tie for third last year.

"It was as good as I've played for a while, and really, really happy with two-under."

Leading first-round scores on Thursday in the PGA Tour Sony Open at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu, Hawaii (Round halted by darkness, to resume Friday. USA unless noted, par-70):

65 - Collin Morikawa

67 - Matt Jones (AUS), Ted Potter, Ryan Palmer, Sam Ryder

68 - Patrick Rodgers, Marc Leishman (AUS), Rory Sabbatini (SVK), Tim Wilkinson (NZL), Brian Harman, Pat Perez, Brendan Steele, Corey Conners (CAN), Brendon Todd, Cameron Davis (AUS)

69 - James Hahn, Abraham Ancer (MEX), DJ Trahan, Zach Johnson, Hudson Swafford, Patrick Reed, Scott Harrington, Michael Gellerman, Alex Noren (SWE), Im Sung-jae (KOR), Kevin Kisner, Matt Kuchar, Satoshi Kodaira (JPN)

Read more on:    pga tour  |  collin morikawa  |  golf

 

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