Australian Cam Davis nabbed nine birdies in an eight-under-par 62 on Thursday to seize a two-stroke lead in the suspended first round of the Sony Open, the first full-field event of the PGA Tour season.
Davis defied windy afternoon conditions at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu, Hawaii, launching a run of four straight birdies with a 37-foot putt at the 13th.
After rolling in a 10-footer at the 14th he drilled a 21-foot birdie at 15 to claim a share of the lead.
Up by one after an eight-foot birdie at 16, Davis added a final birdie at the par-five 18th for his career-low round on the PGA Tour.
He was two strokes clear of Taylor Montgomery – who set an early target with a six-under par 64 – when darkness halted play with two dozen players yet to complete the first round.
Davis said the wind was tough but his comfort on the greens made up for it.
“I was seeing the green reads pretty well for some reason today,” he said. “I felt like I was seeing them well and putting decent speed and just hitting good putts on top of that.
“I just built a round slowly and then exploded a little bit there at the end with a few in a row. So yeah, very relaxing to not be stressing for pars today and having lots of putts for birdie.”
Montgomery, who had nine birdies in his 64, hadn’t played since the RSM Classic in November and said he wasn’t sure what to expect, but he made the most of an early tee time that let him avoid the worst of the winds that picked up later.
“Very happy with how I started,” said Montgomery, who five back-nine birdies included three in a row from the 13th through the 15th and a final birdie at 18 to take sole possession of the lead.
“Month and a half without a tournament you don’t really know what is going to come out because you start working on things and just practising, and to come out here, it was nice to have this kind of start.
“We definitely got a good tee time being able to play the first, like, six holes with no wind, and so that definitely helped.”
Former US Open champion Gary Woodland was even more uncertain in his first start since brain surgery in September to remove a lesion that had caused spells of anxiety and fear.
“Hearing Topeka, Kansas, hearing my name called [on the first tee], there was a time when I didn’t know if that was going to be called again, so it got me a little more than I thought it was going to,” Woodland said.
Under the circumstances, his one-over par score hardly mattered.
“Probably the happiest I’ve ever been shooting over par, tell you that,” Woodland said. “The goal this week was to see how I was mentally, and I was really, really good.”
Four players were tied for third on five-under 65 – England’s Aaron Rai, Germany’s Stephan Jaeger and Americans Austin Eckroat and Webb Simpson.
A group on four-under-par 66 included Chris Kirk, who won the season-opening Sentry tournament at Kapalua on Maui on Sunday and is trying to join Ernie Els (2003) and Justin Thomas (2017) as the only players to sweep the two Hawaiian events.
South Africans Erik van Rooyen and Garrick Higgo began with rounds of one-under 69 and two-over 72, respectively.
© Agence France-Presse
Photo: Michael Reaves/Getty Images