November 3, 2017 / 2:12 AM / a month ago

Golf: Kim leads in Vegas, Watson struggles on return

(Reuters) - South Korean Whee Kim continued his good start to the season with a bogey-free six-under-par 65 to take the first-round lead at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas on Thursday.

Jun 17, 2017; Erin, WI, USA; Whee Kim plays his shot from the fourth tee during the third round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Erin Hills. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Kim took advantage of a calm morning and completed most of his round before a breeze sprang up at the TPC Summerlin, the course where Tiger Woods recorded his first professional win in 1996.

J.J. Spaun, Ryan Blaum, John Huh and German Alex Cejka all carded 66 to trail by one stroke, with Jimmy Stanger also one behind after 15 holes. Stanger was one of 30 players unable to complete the round due to darkness.

“I think I played pretty decent,” Kim told PGA Tour radio. “It’s a nice start. I think I’m in a really good position.”

The 25-year-old has made the cut in barely half of his 80 starts since joining the PGA Tour but things have started to look up in the last six months.

He was joint runner-up at the St. Jude Classic in June and two weeks ago finished fourth at the CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges, the PGA Tour’s first official money event held in South Korea.

Two-times Masters champion Bubba Watson, coming off a mediocre season in which he finished 75th in the points standings, battled to a 72 in his first start in two months.

He told media earlier this week that he was going back to playing with Titleist golf balls. He previously had a deal with Volvik, who are best known for their brightly-colored balls.

This week’s event is the sixth of 45 on the 2017-18 PGA Tour schedule.

Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Peter Rutherford

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