May 19, 2013; Irving, TX, USA; Sang-Moon Bae holds the trophy after winning the HP Byron Nelson Championship at the TPC Four Seasons Resort in Irving, Texas. Mandatory Credit: Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

Sang Moon Bae Sets The Pace At The Sony Open

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2013 HP Byron Nelson Championship champion, Sang Moon Bae fired a bogey-free 63 on Thursday to take a one-shot lead over his playing partner, Chris Kirk at The Sony Open. Getting to Hawaii a week early because of bad weather in his home country , and some practice rounds at the Waialae Country Club before heading to Maui, looks to have paid dividends for the 27 year-old South Korean.

The conditions on Oahu were pristine when the pair teed off, and both players took advantage. After hitting to massive greens last week at Kapalua, the smaller greens at Waialae were tougher to hit, but much easier to putt. It’s easy to look at the numbers to find out why Bae is leading this tournament.

Hitting just shy of 90% of the greens in regulations, he picked up a whopping 4.288 strokes putting. That was good enough for a number two ranking in the field for Greens In Regulation, and a number one for Strokes Gained Putting.

“I think I played well last week, but really tough greens,” Bae said. “Very hard to read. I couldn’t read any right-to-left putts — any putts — so I missed a lot of puts last week. But this course is more shorter than last week, so easy read, and I can make good speed, too.”

Chris Kirk got off to a slow start with a couple of early bogeys, but got his game turned around with birdies at 8 and 9 before making the turn. He turned it on down the stretch, and with an eagle three at the closing hole, the University of Georgia star got within one of the lead.

“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.”

Don’t look now, but John Daly fired a four under par 66 on Thursday to get within three shots of the lead. The two-time major champion had surgery on his elbow last summer, and maybe has his game back on-track. Daly made five birdies on the day, and with only one bogey, has a piece of fifth place.

Other notables on the day were Masters Champ, Adam Scott in a huge group who ended the day at three under par and includes PGA Champ, Jason Dufner. Hyundai Tournament of Champions winner, Zach Johnson is at two under par, and TOC runner-up, Jordan Spieth is at even par.

Sourcd: PGA Tour.com

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Tags: Chris Kirk Golf John Daly PGA Sang-Moon Bae

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