Jordan Spieth has bounced back from a slump in his career with victories in each of his last two seasons and he’s looking to do it again.
Spieth, who has won 13 times on the PGA Tour including three majors, carded a 6-under-par 64 and is tied for the lead with Chris Kirk and Taylor Montgomery in the first round of the 48th Sony Open in Hawaii at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu.
Play was halted by darkness with 10 players still on the course. They will return Friday morning to finish round one before the second round begins.
“I like this place; you’ve got to think your way around it,” said Spieth, who tied for 13th last week in the Sentry Tournament of Champions at Kapalua Resort on Maui. “It’s kind of a bit of Colonial (Country Club) feel for me. It’s still different than that, but similar feel to Hilton Head and Colonial. You have to plot your way around and pick and choose times to be aggressive.
“It plays very different from last week, while you’re only a 30-minute flight over, so it’s got great history as well. I’ve played well here in the past. In, 2017 I think I finished third, so I try and draw off maybe memories from that week and try and improve from last week as well.
“I shook a little bit of rust off last week. Luckily, I played in December a couple times, but I always love this event. I mean, it’s one that every time after you win, it’s like the first thing you think about is can I start booking my trip to Maui and to Hawaii? That will never change for me.”
Spieth, who won the 2021 Valero Texas Open and the 2022 RBC Heritage, birdied two of his first three holes after starting at No. 10, made a lone bogey on the 13th hole, and added four of the five more birdies he made on the front nine in his 64.
Kirk, who has won seven times on the PGA Tour and the Korn Ferry Tour, also started on the back nine and rattled off fourth straight birdies through No. 3 and added two more coming home against his only bogey at No. 8 in another 64.
“I always kind of show up to this tournament feeling good and fit,” said Kirk, who finished second in the Sony Open in Hawaii in 2021 and 2014 among four finishes in the top 10 in the tournament. “That’s my No. 1 goal this year, is to try to maintain it and work harder in the gym when I’m home in the off weeks.
“I played pretty well today on my front nine and then started on my back with three straight birdies right after the turn, which was nice. That was a nice little hot streak. I’ve had some good finishes here and I enjoy this course.
“I just want to put myself in position to win some more.”
Montgomery sank a 29-foot birdie putt on the last hole to tie for the lead right before darkness came after collecting three birdies on the front nine and three more on the back before his lone bogey at No. 15 until his closing birdie his 64.
Harris English, who has won four times on the PGA Tour including twice in 2021, birdied four of the last seven holes for a 65 and is tied for fourth with Denny McCarthy, who birdied three of the last five holes; Brandon Todd, who birdied his last hole at No. 9; David Lipsky of Los Angeles, who birdied three of his last five; Rory Sabbatini of Slovakia, who birdied two of the last three holes, and Ben Griffin, who birdied three of the last five.
S.H. Kim of South Korea was a bogey-free five-under through 16 holes and also in the tie for fourth when darkness halted play and will return Friday morning to finish his round.
Defending champion Hideki Matsuyama of Japan is tied for 41st at 68 and tournament favorite Tom Kim of South Korea birdied the last hole for a 72 and is tied for 115th.
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