(Reuters) – Collin Morikawa displayed a wise head beyond his 22 years in strong winds to vault to a two-shot lead after his opening round at the Sony Open in Hawaii on Thursday.
The Californian handled the windswept conditions with aplomb, though riding his luck at times after some errant drives, while running up five birdies in a five-under-par 65 at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu.
Australian Matt Jones and Americans Ted Potter, Ryan Palmer and Sam Ryder shared second place after they all posted rounds of three-under-par 67.
Ten players were locked in a tie for sixth place in a round that was suspended due to darkness with a handful of players still out on the course.
“I didn’t hit my driver that well but other than that (it was) really good,” Morikawa told Golf Channel.
“Lot of crosswinds out here. You’ve got to hit fairways and I didn’t do a great job of that today.
“I got some lucky breaks with where I was in the rough. I didn’t make a lot of putts but made the ones I needed to for birdie.”
Morikawa, born in Los Angeles of Hawaiian and Japanese heritage, turned pro last June, and took only six starts to clinch his first PGA Tour victory at the Barracuda Championship in Nevada.
Part of an exciting wave of fearless young players with seemingly unlimited potential, he is already ranked 55th in the world but says he needs to sharpen up his driving to stay atop the leaderboard.
“Next few days I have to hit a few more fairways and we’ll be good from there,” he said.
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina and Rory Carroll in Los Angeles; editing by Grant McCool and Lincoln Feast.)