Sun, 07 Mar 2021

Three share first-round lead at Sony Open in Hawaii

Field Level Media
15 Jan 2021, 14:55 GMT+10

Chile's Joaquin Niemann chipped in for an eagle on the 18th hole Thursday to grab a share of the first-round lead at the Sony Open in Hawaii.

Niemann, Peter Malnati and Jason Kokrak each shot 8-under-par 62 at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu.

Vaughn Taylor, Jim Herman, Patton Kizzire, Daniel Berger, Australia's Aaron Baddeley and South Korea's Si Woo Kim share fourth place at 6 under.

Niemann produced five birdies in a six-hole stretch in the middle of his round. Following his lone bogey at No. 12, he added two more birdies before his 50-yard chip shot from just off the green was on target to end his round.

"It was a good way to finish," Niemann said. "Just happy the way I played. Nice chip-in to finish and will help me sleep for tomorrow. ...

"I hit the ball great off the tee. Hit my irons really close and made a lot of good putts. I think the only little mistake I had was on No. 12 that I just, I don't know what happened, just hit a really firm putt and I just three-putted there. Other than that it was a pretty good day."

Niemann, 22, is in search of his second PGA Tour victory, having won A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier in 2019. He has competed in just two major tournaments, tying for 71st in the 2018 PGA Championship and tying for 23rd in the 2020 U.S. Open.

Malnati produced five birdies and a bogey on the back nine, which he played first, then added four birdies on the front nine, closing with a 5-foot birdie at No. 9.

Malnati, 33, also has just one career PGA Tour triumph, at the 2015 Sanderson Farms Championship.

Malnati said of the Waialae layout, "I just really, really enjoy it. You have to control the ball a little bit more off the tee, which hitting fairways hasn't necessarily been my strong suit lately, but control off the tee has always been, so I think it really does suit me well."

Kokrak completed a bogey-free round, closing with consecutive birdies at Nos. 8 and 9.

Kokrak is another one-time PGA Tour victor, with his win coming last October in the CJ Cup at Shadow Creek.

Defending champion Cameron Smith of Australia is tied for 40th at 3 under, having recorded pars on each of his last nine holes.

--Field Level Media

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