Byeong Hun An was right at home in the first round of the CJ Cup at Nine Bridges.
The 28-year-old An, a native of Seoul who played college golf at Cal, posted a bogey-free, 8-under-par 64 to take a one-stroke lead over Joaquin Niemann of Chile at Nine Bridges Golf Club www.ninebridges.co.kr/eng/ in Jeju Island, South Korea.
“It was great, 8-under and bogey-free is always good,” said An, who has won three times as a pro, including the 2015 BMW PGA Championship on the European Tour. “I hit it really solid, and I wasn’t expecting it, to be fair. I didn’t hit it great the last couple days and on the range today, but everything seems to be working.
“Everything was going at the flag the perfect distance and obviously I holed a lot of putts today, so everything just clicked and I shot bogey-free. I can feel a lot of support from people here. And playing well in front of them definitely is a bonus. Hopefully, I can keep this going.”
An, who captured the 2009 U.S. Amateur Championship at the age of 17, collected four birdies on each nine en route to his 64.
The 20-year-old Niemann, who earned his first PGA Tour victory in A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier earlier this season, had six birdies on the back nine in his bogey-free 65, while Jason Day of Australia birdied the last three holes on the front nine en route to a flawless 66 that put him in third.
Charley Hoffman made an eagle on the last hole to shoot 67 and is tied for fourth with Danny Lee of New Zealand, Cameron Smith of Australia, Jung-gon Hwang of South Korea and Charles Howell III.
Fifth-ranked Justin Thomas, who claimed the first CJ Cup title two years ago, totaled 68 and is tied for ninth with Soomin Lee of South Korea, Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland, Chez Reavie, Sungjae Im of South Korea and Rafa Cabrera Bello of Spain, who tied for third in the CJ Cup last year.
Top-ranked Brooks Koepka, the defending champion, sank a four-foot eagle putt on the last hole and is tied for 15th at 69, Phil Mickelson is tied for 29th at 70, and Gary Woodland, the reigning U.S. Open champion who finished second behind Koepka at Nine Bridges last year, shot 71 and is tied for 39th.
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