KAPALUA, Hawaii – U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover played 26 tournaments last year and made only two eagles. It only took him nine holes in the new season to match that total, and the timing could not have been better.
Glover’s round featured two eagles and four straight birdies, a nine-hole stretch that he played in 9-under par and led him to a 7-under 66 and a one-shot lead.
“Any time you have a stretch like that, it gives you confidence because something is there,” Glover said.
His final birdie on the par-5 18th, pitching to within a foot of the cup, put him atop the leaderboard over Martin Laird, Nathan Green, Matt Kuchar, Nick Watney and Dustin Johnson.
British Open champion Stewart Cink and Masters champion Angel Cabrera were among those at 68, along with defending champion Geoff Ogilvy, who had a late bogey.
With a 28-man field at Kapalua, it remained relatively tight from top-to-bottom.
Heath Slocum (75) and Mark Wilson (74) were the only players who failed to break par on a breezy day above the Pacific Ocean. Even so, a nine-shot difference between first and worst is unusual.
Glover has not been to Kapalua since 2006, when he won at Disney by holing a bunker shot on the last hole.
“I’m pretty pleased to make a couple of eagles and get the ball rolling,” he said.
Perhaps the most unusual aspect of his round is how his brilliant stretch of golf ended. From the front of the par-4 14th green, he chipped weakly to 8 feet and missed the birdie putt, then missed a 3-foot birdie on the par-5 15th.
Green felt particularly good after his worst shot of the day. He hit it left of the green on the par-3 eighth and tried to play it from the weeds, but the thick grass grabbed the club and pulled the shot straight to the left. Green feared it was going to hit the head of a woman, one of about 10 people in his gallery, but it hit her in the arm.
“I actually said, ‘Sorry,’ while the ball was still on the club face,” Green said.
From some 30 yards beyond the green, he chipped to 6 feet and got out with a bogey.
“That’s the stuff I wasn’t doing much at all last year,” Green said. “If I had a slightly good break like that, I wouldn’t make the most of it. I wouldn’t manage to get it up and down.”
He settled down after that with four birdies on the back nine.
Johnson had eight birdies to offset a few mistakes, which are expected early in the year. Laird had the honor of hitting the opening tee shot of the 2010 season, and he split the middle of the fairway, which isn’t hard to do since it’s about 80 yards wide.