Golf: Four share first-round Kapalua lead
Kapalua, Hawaii • Jordan Spieth thought the Plantation Course was a blast to play when he arrived at Kapalua. He had even more fun Friday.
Coming off a sensational rookie season, Spieth opened the new year by never coming close to bogey and making a 12-foot birdie putt on the last hole for a 7-under 66. That gave him a share of the lead at the Tournament of Champions with fellow newcomer Michael Thompson, Chris Kirk and Webb Simpson.
"It's a course that I shouldn't make a lot of bogeys on if you keep the ball in play and just think your way around the course," Spieth said. "Ultimately, I did some good preparation and did a lot of hard work the last two or three weeks getting ready for today, and now just happy to be in good position after the first round."
The wind off the west coast of Maui was the biggest surprise, shifting direction and speed throughout the opening round on a mostly sunny afternoon. But with an inch of rain overnight, the Plantation Course was soft enough that only two players in the 30-man field of PGA Tour winners failed to break par.
Kirk thought he might be one of them when he first got to this slice of paradise. He had not played since winning the McGladrey Classic at Sea Island two months ago, and his first practice round was a skins game with Matt Kuchar and Scott Brown. Kirk got shut out and figures he shot about 80.
When it counted, he was on the money, especially late in the round by closing with five straight birdies.
The last two were not easy, especially with the wind blasting into him on the 17th hole, a par 4 that measures 545 yards down the hill. He hit a poor tee shot and had to smash a 3-wood into 30 feet for an unlikely birdie. He had to hit 3-wood and 9-iron for his final two shots on 18 to make birdie.
"Some slightly more exciting birdies in the last few holes," he said.
Tournament of Champions
Michael Thompson -7
Chris Kirk -7
Jordan Spieth -7
Webb Simpson -7
Ryan Moore -6
Kevin Streelman -6
Jason Dufner -6
Zach Johnson -6