Viktor Hovland made an impressive start to the defence of his Hero World Challenge crown, taking a share of the lead after round one.
The Norwegian was riding high when leaving the Bahamas with the trophy 12 months ago.
He won again in the Dubai Desert Classic at the start of this year, but things went awry as Hovland struggled with his swing through much of the middle of 2022.
The undoubted highlight to his round of 69 was an eagle on the 14th, following a stunning tee shot on the driveable par-four.
First Round Leaderboard
- T1. Viktor Hovland, three-under
- T1. Collin Morikawa, three-under
- T1. Sepp Straka, three-under
- T1. Tom Kim, three-under
- 5. Sam Burns, two-under
- T6. Tommy Fleetwood, one-under
- T6. Max Homa, one-under
- T6. Tony Finau, one-under
Tom Kim is one of the brightest talents in golf, and one of the sport’s most endearing figures, and he produced some sparkling play in his opening round.
In a round of three-under, he saved his best for the final hole. After finding the middle of the fairway from an intimidating tee shot in windy conditions, he lasered his approach to three feet and rolled in the putt to sign for a 69.
“It was playing long because of how soft it was,” Kim, the only player who did not make a bogey on Thursday, said. “I stayed very patient today. I should have been one or two-under after nine holes, but once I made the first birdie I got in a good groove and made that par save at 17.
“Happy with a bogey-free round, especially with the way it played today.”
Looking forward to the rest of the week, Kim said: “I have just got to stick to my game plan. It is the first round.
“The best players in the world the more rounds they have the better they play. So I just have to keep playing. I am playing great and just got to stick to my game plan.”
Collin Morikawa threw away a five-stroke lead when reeled in by Hovland 12 months ago.
If there were scars, they did not appear to hurt him as he cruised round in 69 to secure a share of the lead.
Tommy Fleetwood bogeyed two of his final three holes after playing superbly for 15 holes, but he is still well placed at one-under.
“It was pretty good,” Fleetwood said. “Overall I was pretty steady all day. I made a couple of really good putts for par on eight and 10. I missed a couple as well, but overall I am not going to complain.”
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