Hot putter helps Korean Bae take early Waialae lead

Thu Jan 9, 2014 8:27pm EST
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(Reuters) - South Korea's Bae Sang-moon put on a putting master class as he charged into an early one-shot lead with a flawless seven-under-par 63 in Thursday's opening round of the Sony Open in Hawaii.

Bae took advantage of benign conditions on a glorious morning of dazzling sunshine at Waialae Country Club, piling up five birdies before the turn and two more over the closing stretch to take control of the PGA Tour event.

The 27-year-old from Daegu sank several lengthy putts, including 25-footers at the third and sixth, to end the day a stroke in front of playing partner Chris Kirk, who said later he had been inspired by the Korean's sizzling form on the greens.

South African Retief Goosen, a double U.S. Open winner, was among a group of five players tied on 66 while Masters champion Adam Scott of Australia opened with a 67.

"I felt really good today," Korean Bae, who won his maiden PGA Tour title at last year's Byron Nelson Championship, told Golf Channel.

"If I hit a good driver, then I've got a wedge or low-iron (into the green). I had a lot of chances, a tap-in at 15 (for par), but I made a bunch of good putts today."

Bae, who topped the 2011 Japan Golf Tour order of merit after winning three times, birdied the first, third, fourth, sixth and ninth to race to the turn in five-under 30.

He also picked up shots at the 10th and 14th on the tight, tree-lined layout at Waialae to surge to the top of the leaderboard.

SPURRED ON   Continued...

Sang-Moon Bae of South Korea hits off the 15th tee during the first round at the Sony Open golf tournament at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu, Hawaii, January 9, 2014. REUTERS/Hugh Gentry