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January 7 2013

6:27 PM

Three share lead after first round


Dustin Johnson had a share of the first-round lead once morning play concluded at Kapalua. (Petersen/Getty Images)

By Ann Miller for PGATOUR.COM

KAPALUA, Maui — When the first round of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions finally ended Monday, 74 hours after it began for the first time at Kapalua’s Plantation Course, three golfers shared the lead.

Dustin Johnson, Mark Wilson and Nick Watney -- thanks to an eagle on the final hole -- all shot 4-under 69s to surge to the top of the wind-blown leaderboard.

The West Maui gusts, which delayed the start of the 2013 PGA TOUR season from Friday to Monday, finally dropped to a playable level on the day this event was scheduled to end. They were a sustained 20-30 mph to start the day and began to pick up just before the second round started at noon local time.

Golfers went out from 7:10 a.m. and defending champion Steve Stricker struck the final first-round shot of the 30-man field at 12:45 p.m.

Officials hope to get 36 holes in Monday and finish the tournament Tuesday with 18 more holes. It will be only the third time this tournament, which started in 1953, has been cut to three rounds. This is the TOUR’s first 54-hole tournament since the 2011 Barclays, won by Johnson. Actually, he has won the TOUR’s last two 54-hole events, also taking the 2009 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

Johnson, who won last year’s FedEx St. Jude Classic to get here, was the first to reach 4 under Monday, with four birdies on the back nine. Johnson missed just one green in regulation, but had three three-putts on greens slowed to make the wind-blown course more user-friendly.

Wilson joined him with a bogey-free round that saw him settle for par on all the par-5 holes. Later this week, he will try to win his second Sony Open in Hawaii in three tries.

“It was a good start,” Wilson said. “Just kind of trying to be patient with the wind and hitting some weird clubs with different yardages and stuff. I played conservative.

“I made some nice par putts early on in those tough holes on the back nine that get most of the wind and just made birdies on par-4s and stuff, and didn’t birdie the par-5s. So I’m looking forward to this afternoon.” His playing competitor was Ben Curtis, who was 5 over after two holes before Sunday’s round was scrapped. Curtis turned in a 3-under 70 Monday, on his third attempt at the first round.

Watney, making his debut with Nike gear and equipment, drained a 68-foot eagle putt on the 18th to join the first-place tie. Curtis shared fourth with Rickie Fowler, Carl Pettersson, Bubba Watson and Brandt Snedeker. Stricker was another shot back, joining Keegan Bradley, Ian Poulter, J.J. Henry, Charlie Beljan and Bill Haas.

The field played the Plantation more than a stroke under par (71.967), with all but six players at par or better. In contrast, the field was 41-over par in the 126 holes played — and wiped out by the wind — Friday and Sunday.

U.S. Open champ Webb Simpson, who was 3 under after seven holes Friday, opened with a 1-under 72 thanks to a double bogey on the 13th.

NOTE: If the Hyundai Tournament of Champions ends after 54 holes, it would be the 27th 54-hole event on the PGA TOUR since 1990. A look at the last five 54-hole events on the PGA TOUR (with Dustin Johnson winning the last two):
2011 The Barclays (Dustin Johnson)
2009 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am (Dustin Johnson)
2005 BellSouth Classic (Phil Mickelson)
2002 Southern Farm Bureau Classic (Luke Donald)
2000 BellSouth Classic (Phil Mickelson)

 

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