With a nagging back injury preventing him from playing a practice round, Kevin Kisner used his first trip around Sheshan International Golf Club to fire an opening-round 64. At 8 under, he trails leader Branden Grace by one shot.
Kisner tweaked his back during the final round of last week's CIMB Classic, where he finished T-37. The injury led to him spending much of his prep time this week on the training table, and he didn't touch a club between leaving Malaysia and Thursday's opener.
"It was really bad the last three days, and then yesterday afternoon I got some meds from the European doctor, try to knock some of it out," Kisner said. "I've had it in the past, just flares up randomly. Still wasn't great today, but I can hit."
Kisner said his back is still not "100 percent," but he showed no signs of injury during a round that included eight birdies against no bogeys amid ideal scoring conditions. He relied largely on sight lines and targets supplied by his caddie and remained blissfully ignorant of the trouble that errant shots can bring.
"You don't know where all the bad stuff is, so you kind of just play like you're playing at home," he said. "It worked out well today."
Kisner is coming off the most successful season of his career, highlighted by three playoff losses and a Tour Championship appearance that earned him a spot at next year's Masters. While his maiden victory remains elusive, he is once again in the early mix despite a less-than-clean bill of health.
"It's been a great year. I gave myself a lot of chances, a lot of good rounds," he said. "Hopefully I have a chance here on Sunday."