Tom Kim of Korea. File pic
Kapalua, Hawaii, Jan 6: The latest sensation in world golf got off to a brilliant start at the Sentry Tournament of Champions with two eagles in a round of 8-under 65, even as Indian-American Sahith Theegala, also making his debut at the event shot 6-under 67 on the first day.
Tom Kim, twice winner on the PGA Tour in 2022, flew on two eagles for a perfect start to the New Year. He was one shot behind the trio of leaders, Collin Morikawa, last year’s runner-up Jon Rahm and J.J. Spaun at the Plantation Course at Kapalua in Maui.
Morikawa began on the back nine with six straight birdies and then had four straight birdies on the back. Last year Morikawa closed with an 11-under 62 to finish T5.
World No. 2 Scottie Scheffler birdied four of his final five holes for a bogey-free 7-under 66. He is tied fifth.
The 20-year-old Kim, who also stays in Dallas like Jordan Spieth, had a Christmas dinner with the three time Major champion. Kim holed out a stunning 116-yard wedge shot for his first eagle on the sixth hole before adding a second following a brilliant 3 wood approach from 252 yards which landed inside six feet of the hole. He duly holed it. He added five more birdies against a lone bogey on fourth.
Playing alongside Spieth, young Kim outscored him by two.
Theegala, who is still looking for his first win on the PGA Tour – he did win the QBE Shootout with Tom Hoge – came into the event by virtue of qualifying for the Tour Championship.
Theegala, who had a great 2022 , made good use with a 6-under score and lies tied 11th alongside Hideki Matsuyama.
Theegala also had an eagle as he hit his second shot from 223 yards to under 10 feet and holed it. He had five other birdies and one bogey.
Sungjae Im and K.H. Lee also started strongly with rounds of 66 and 68 respectively as there was a strong Asian presence in the TOUR’s first leaderboard of 2023.
Im, who finished tied second in the 2022 FedExCup points list, enjoyed a blemish-free card with seven birdies. Matsuyama, who defends his Sony Open in Hawaii title next week, made five birdies over his last seven holes.
Only one player in the 39-man field, Billy Horschel shot over par at 3-over 76.