Flawless Bae grabs early Sony lead with 63


The sun was shining and conditions were ideal for scoring Thursday as the Sony Open in Hawaii got underway at Waialae Country Club. Here's how things look after one round in Honolulu, where Sang-Moon Bae leads by one shot after a bogey-free opening round:

Leaderboard: Sang-Moon Bae (-7), Chris Kirk (-6), Brian Stuard (-5), Ryan Palmer (-5), Retief Goosen (-4), Harris English (-4), Jimmy Walker (-4), John Daly (-4), Hideto Tanihara (-4), Jason Kokrak (-4), Daniel Summerhays (-4)

What it means: A winner last year at the HP Byron Nelson Championship, Bae has yet to record a top-10 finish on the PGA Tour since his breakthrough victory in May. He's in position to break out of that drought this week at Waialae, though, and leads through 18 holes over another 2013 winner in Kirk.

Round of the day: The South Korean started quickly Thursday, as Bae carded birdies on three of his first four holes en route to an outward nine of 5-under 30. He added a pair of birdies on the back nine to reach 7 under and recorded the day's lowest score after reaching 16 of 18 greens in regulation amid the tight confines of Waialae.

Best of the rest: Having claimed the McGladrey Classic in November, Kirk already has a win under his belt this season, but he's in contention for another title after opening Thursday with a 6-under 64. Kirk started slowly and actually stood on the eighth tee at 2 over before salvaging his round in short order. The 28-year-old birdied four of the next five holes and then ended with a flurry after birdies on Nos. 15 and 16 were followed by an eagle on the home hole.

Biggest disappointment: One year ago, Russell Henley turned his first start as a PGA Tour member into a memorable win at Waialae, but a defense of his title is now unlikely. Henley, who missed the Wednesday pro-am due to illness, saw his round derailed by back-to-back double bogeys at Nos. 10 and 11 and now will have difficulty making the 36-hole cut after opening with a 3-over 73.

Main storyline heading into Friday: After a mediocre finish to his 2013 season, the onus will be on Bae to remain out in front after his bogey-free start. Among the names closest to him, though, attention will certainly be paid to Daly, a two-time major winner who opened with a 66 Thursday and is in search of his first top-25 finish since the 2012 PGA Championship.

Shot of the day: Kirk came to the reachable par-5 18th with a good round already secured, but his accurate approach made dinner taste that much better. Standing 244 yards away in the final fairway, Kirk carved a second shot that rolled to within 15 feet of the hole. The subsequent putt was holed for eagle, giving the two-time PGA Tour winner a 6-under 64 after playing his final four holes in 4 under.