A year after Graham DeLaet underwent back surgery which jeopardized his career, the Canadian took a two-shot lead after the first round of the Sony Open in Hawaii.
DeLaet shot a 7-under 63 at Waialae CC to lead by a pair over Carl Pettersson, K.J. Choi and Kyle Reifers. A chip-in for eagle at the par-5 ninth was sandwiched by two birdies which propelled DeLaet into contention. A pair of closing birdies sealed his lead.
Lower-back surgery forced DeLaet into missing the bulk of the ’11 season – which should have been his sophomore campaign. Instead, DeLaet has a major medical exemption for this season in which he has 26 events to make $657,694 to retain his card.
Choi and Reifers began their rounds on the 10th tee in the first full-field event of 2012, while Pettersson logged a bogey-free round of 65 on the traditional route.
After the trio in second place, 12 players are tied for fifth on 4 under par, including last week’s winner Steve Stricker, Webb Simpson, standout rookies Bud Cauley, Seung-yul Noh and up-and-comer Kyle Stanley.
A modest breeze outside of Honolulu allowed for good scoring, with 78 of 143 players at par or better.