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Defending champ Na fires 61, takes early lead at Sony Open

Kevin Na plays his shot from the 11th tee during the first round of the Sony Open on Thursday at Waialae Country Club. AP photos

The Associated Press

HONOLULU — Kevin Na felt such great control Thursday in the Sony Open that he matched his career low with a 9-under 61 and still found reason to be slightly disappointed.

He had his sights on a sub-60 round, especially as the afternoon wind died, only to see three good birdie chances narrowly miss. He finished with a 6-foot par save from the bunker on the 17th hole and made a 6-foot birdie at the par-5 18th.

That gave him a one-shot lead over 51-year-old Jim Furyk, who knows what it’s like to post a round in the 50s. Furyk is the only player to do that twice on the PGA Tour.

“I did everything well today and my iron play was amazing,” Na said. “And I tell you what, I had a chance for a 59. I gave it all I could. I’m a little disappointed my putts didn’t fall, some of the good putts that I hit didn’t fall. But it’s still a good round.”

Jim Furyk waits to hit on the 16th green Thursday.

It was good enough to set a target of winning back-to-back at Waialae. Na also had a 61 last year in the third round. He now has five rounds at 61 in his PGA Tour career.

This one didn’t give him much breathing room. Furyk and Russell Henley were at 62, with Kevin Chappell and Seamus Power among those at 63.

Furyk was in the hunt more than a quarter-century after he first won the Sony Open. He made a hole-in-one on the 17th hole to cap off a big run toward the end of his round.

Furyk went a decade without playing in Honolulu until returning last year once he became eligible for the 50-and-older PGA Tour Champions, which opens next week on the Big Island.

“Trying to get ready for this year and what do I look at this week? I want to be competitive,” Furyk said. “I want to compete and put myself in position, in the hunt, and also want to get a feel for where my game is and what I want to work on for the year.”

Furyk won so long ago at Waialae that it was a year before world No. 2 Collin Morikawa was even born. The tournament had a different title sponsor in 1996, and the perks of winning ($216,000 for first place, compared with $1.35 million this year) included a United Airlines pass for two to travel anywhere in the world for a year.

There were other reminders for Furyk.

“Played a practice round with a guy that called me ‘sir,’ and later on he asked me what I liked most about the Champions Tour,” Furyk said. “And I said, ‘No one calls me ‘sir.’ He said his dad would be angry with him if he didn’t.”

On the course, not much changed. Waialae is on the short list of PGA Tour courses that doesn’t favor all-out power, and even after heavy rain a week ago, there’s enough bounce and roll on shots in the fairway to make it feel even shorter.

Furyk opened with a long three-putt bogey, which did not project to what kind of day he had on the greens. He made a pair of 30-foot birdie putts early, and then finished strong with birdie putts from 12, 15 and 25 feet starting on the 14th hole, and then a 6-iron for an ace at No. 17.

Na was bogey-free, and stress-free. All seven of his birdies and his eagle on the par-5 ninth hole were inside 10 feet, and he only came seriously close to bogey on the 17th when he had to get up-and-down from a deep bunker right of the green.

Garrett Okamura, a 2000 Baldwin High School graduate and former head pro at The Dunes at Maui Lani, opened with a 2-under 68 and was tied for 62nd place.

*****

PGA Tour Sony Open

Thursday’s First Round

At Honolulu

Kevin Na 29-32–61 -9

Jim Furyk 32-30–62 -8

Russell Henley 30-32–62 -8

Kevin Chappell 32-31–63 -7

Patton Kizzire 31-32–63 -7

Michael Thompson 32-31–63 -7

Seamus Power 32-31–63 -7

Haotong Li 31-32–63 -7

Tyler Duncan 31-33–64 -6

J.T. Poston 32-32–64 -6

Ryan Palmer 33-31–64 -6

Matt Kuchar 32-32–64 -6

Corey Conners 33-31–64 -6

Jason Kokrak 31-33–64 -6

Adam Svensson 33-31–64 -6

Vaughn Taylor 32-33–65 -5

Maverick McNealy 32-33–65 -5

Billy Horschel 34-31–65 -5

Sahith Theegala 33-32–65 -5

Andy Ogletree 32-33–65 -5

C. Bezuidenhout 32-33–65 -5

Davis Riley 30-35–65 -5

Dylan Wu 35-30–65 -5

Kramer Hickok 33-33–66 -4

Tom Hoge 33-33–66 -4

Sepp Straka 31-35–66 -4

Brandt Snedeker 32-34–66 -4

Abraham Ancer 33-33–66 -4

Harris English 32-34–66 -4

Hideki Matsuyama 34-32–66 -4

Erik van Rooyen 34-32–66 -4

Takumi Kanaya 33-33–66 -4

Paul Barjon 33-33–66 -4

Stephan Jaeger 34-32–66 -4

Kyle Stanley 32-34–66 -4

Chris Kirk 34-32–66 -4

Cam Davis 35-31–66 -4

Kevin Tway 34-32–66 -4

Vince Whaley 34-32–66 -4

Brian Harman 34-33–67 -3

Cameron Percy 34-33–67 -3

Russell Knox 33-34–67 -3

Brendon Todd 33-34–67 -3

Keith Mitchell 32-35–67 -3

Wesley Bryan 34-33–67 -3

Webb Simpson 34-33–67 -3

Bo Van Pelt 33-34–67 -3

Aaron Rai 35-32–67 -3

Chad Ramey 33-34–67 -3

Trey Mullinax 32-35–67 -3

Alex Smalley 32-35–67 -3

Beau Hossler 32-35–67 -3

Lucas Glover 34-33–67 -3

Marc Leishman 33-34–67 -3

Robert Streb 36-31–67 -3

Cameron Smith 32-35–67 -3

Talor Gooch 33-34–67 -3

Greyson Sigg 33-34–67 -3

Keita Nakajima 32-35–67 -3

Hayden Buckley 34-33–67 -3

Justin Lower 32-35–67 -3

Sam Ryder 33-35–68 -2

Andrew Putnam 33-35–68 -2

Hudson Swafford 33-35–68 -2

Martin Trainer 32-36–68 -2

Si Woo Kim 34-34–68 -2

Kevin Kisner 34-34–68 -2

Richy Werenski 32-36–68 -2

David Lipsky 36-32–68 -2

Callum Tarren 33-35–68 -2

Brandon Wu 33-35–68 -2

Luke Donald 34-34–68 -2

Stewart Cink 35-33–68 -2

Henrik Norlander 33-35–68 -2

Jim Knous 33-35–68 -2

Brett Drewitt 33-35–68 -2

Joseph Bramlett 33-35–68 -2

Ben Kohles 35-33–68 -2

Seth Reeves 34-34–68 -2

Garrett Okamura 35-33–68 -2

Brendan Steele 36-33–69 -1

Harry Higgs 33-36–69 -1

Keegan Bradley 35-34–69 -1

Brian Gay 33-36–69 -1

K.H. Lee 36-33–69 -1

Kelly Kraft 36-33–69 -1

Jerry Kelly 34-35–69 -1

Chesson Hadley 35-34–69 -1

J.J. Spaun 35-34–69 -1

Bill Haas 33-36–69 -1

Rory Sabbatini 33-36–69 -1

Joel Dahmen 35-34–69 -1

Charles Howell III 35-34–69 -1

Jimmy Walker 36-33–69 -1

Sung Kang 34-35–69 -1

William McGirt 36-33–69 -1

Emiliano Grillo 36-33–69 -1

Kurt Kitayama 33-36–69 -1

Lee Hodges 35-34–69 -1

Hank Lebioda 34-36–70 E

Brian Stuard 36-34–70 E

Branden Grace 34-36–70 E

Adam Long 37-33–70 E

Adam Schenk 34-36–70 E

A. Smotherman 34-36–70 E

Nick Hardy 33-37–70 E

Dawie van der Walt 33-37–70 E

Kevin Carll 35-35–70 E

Scott Gutschewski 34-36–70 E

Mark Hubbard 35-35–70 E

Ryan Moore 35-35–70 E

Nate Lashley 35-35–70 E

Graeme McDowell 35-35–70 E

Matt Jones 36-34–70 E

Chan Kim 33-37–70 E

Rikuya Hoshino 36-34–70 E

Brent Grant 35-35–70 E

Chase Seiffert 36-34–70 E

Denny McCarthy 36-35–71 +1

Roger Sloan 35-36–71 +1

Parker McLachlin 36-35–71 +1

Cameron Young 38-33–71 +1

Taylor Pendrith 37-34–71 +1

Jared Wolfe 35-36–71 +1

Ryan Armour 32-39–71 +1

John Huh 34-37–71 +1

Satoshi Kodaira 35-36–71 +1

Austin Cook 35-36–71 +1

Sungjae Im 37-34–71 +1

Bo Hoag 35-36–71 +1

BJ Doucett 34-37–71 +1

Michael Gligic 36-36–72 +2

Peter Jung 35-37–72 +2

Koichiro Ishika 34-38–72 +2

Camilo Villegas 35-37–72 +2

Zach Johnson 36-36–72 +2

David Skinns 36-36–72 +2

Curtis Thompson 37-35–72 +2

Andrew Novak 38-34–72 +2

Jim Herman 37-36–73 +3

Jared Sawada 37-36–73 +3

Peter Malnati 38-35–73 +3

Max McGreevy 38-36–74 +4

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