HONOLULU (AP) — If the first round of the Sony Open was any indication, it pays to get to paradise early.
Sang-Moon Bae said it was too cold in South Korea to do much more than take a long walk, so he showed up in Hawaii five days before Christmas and played Waialae Country Club three or four times before heading over to the Tournament of Champions last week on Kapalua.
He found a shorter course — and one that was easier to walk — much more enjoyable after opening with a 7-under 63 for a one-shot lead over Chris Kirk.
Kirk also was at Kapalua last week, as were Harris English and Jimmy Walker, who checked in at 66.
But there were more.
Retief Goosen spent nine days on Maui with his family. Even after a sore neck that sent him to get treatment after the pro-am round, he shot 66. Ryan Palmer also was on Maui last week for a week of family time, and he overcame an early bogey for a 66.
"I need to play good to pay for the trip," Palmer said.
Bae played bogey-free for his best score ever on the PGA Tour, doing most of his damage on the front nine with five birdies. He played alongside Kirk, who did his work on the back nine, including an eagle to finish his round of 64.
They had a better-ball score of 56. There were only five holes where both of them had to settle for par.
"He was off to a great start," Kirk said. "At one point he was 4-under and I was still 2-over. It took some catching up for me on the back nine. But it's always nice to see putts falling."
Brian Stuard had eight birdies in his round of 65, while John Daly was among those at 66.
Kapalua winner Zach Johnson opened with two bogeys before he settled into a 68. Jordan Spieth, who finished one shot behind Johnson last week in the Tournament of Champions, reached 3-under through 10 holes until he was slowed by a three-putt bogey from 20 feet on No. 12. That was the start of three bogeys in four holes, and the 20-year-old Texan had to settle for a 70.
There are not two courses 100 miles apart in the same state on consecutive weeks on the PGA Tour any more different.
Kapalua was built on the side of a mountain, with severe grain in the greens and massive changes in elevation. Waialae is flat, tight and tree-lined with small greens.