KAPALUA, Hawaii (AP) Russell Henley found Kapalua to be a lot more fun the second time around.
Henley made four birdie putts outside 20 feet on his way to an 8-under 65 on Friday, giving him a one-shot lead over Bae Sang-Moon in the opening round of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.
Henley made his debut last year in the winners-only event that starts the year and never broke 70. The Plantation Course offered up far better scores without the typical wind off the west coast of Maui.
Bae was in Honolulu practicing last week when he learned the South Korean government had denied an extension of his overseas travel permit. Bae has deferred his mandatory military service, and there are questions over how much time he spent at home during this deferral. He has hired a legal firm to sort out the problems, but he caused a stir back home when he was quoted as saying he would not being going back to South Korea. What he meant was that he was not required to be there while the law firm worked on it.
Most players have not competed in nearly two months, except those who were at the Hero World Challenge the first week of December or played overseas. Masters champion Bubba Watson played in Thailand to close out his best year ever, and he has been at Kapalua for the last week before his shots counted. He had a 70, a reasonable start, though he has yet to break 69 in 12 rounds on the Plantation Course.
Jimmy Walker and Patrick Reed, who joined Watson as the only multiple winners on tour last year who are at Kapalua, led a group at 67 that included Scott Stallings, Robert Streb and Ben Martin, who chipped in for eagle on the 18th with a shot that would have gone 20 feet by the hole if it hadn’t banged into the pin. Matt Kuchar, never far from the hunt, was among those at 68.
SOUTH AFRICAN OPEN
JOHANNESBURG (AP) – England’s Andy Sullivan shot a 2-under 70 in the South African Open to take a one-shot lead over South African star Charl Schwartzel.
Sullivan had an 8-under 136 total at Glendower. Schwartzel shot 69. Five-time champion Ernie Els followed his opening 67 with 77 to drop into a tie for 34th.