Low scores were abundant in Round 1 of the Shriners Children’s Open on Thursday in Las Vegas, but one stood out among them all. Sixteen golfers shot 65 or better over the first 18 holes at TPC at Summerlin, but Sung Kang’s 61 leads a group including Sungjae Im, Charley Hoffman and Chad Ramey, who all shot 63.
Kang made eight birdies and an eagle in his bid for a second PGA Tour win (he also won the 2019 AT&T Byron Nelson). Most of his work was done from tee to green, where he was second in the field in strokes gained behind only Talor Gooch, and all of this happened while only driving it field average.
“Last few weeks I wasn’t driving it very good, but my iron play was pretty sharp and my putting was pretty good,” said Kang. “So I was just thinking if I can get my driver somewhere in play I could actually score better. And we figured something out on Tuesday and started driving it a lot better and I drove it quite better than last few weeks. So everything just worked out great …”
There’s a long way to go for Kang, and he has some big problems right behind him, including Im who is now the 8-1 favorite to win this tournament and finished third in the field on Thursday in strokes gained from tee to green. Im was my pick coming into the week based on how well he’s been striking it of late (fourth in the field from tee to green over his last 20 rounds), and that played out on Thursday where he was third in the field from tee to green.
Other contenders include Matthew Wolff (T5), Louis Oosthuizen (T10), Hideki Matsuyama (T10) and last week’s winner Sam Burns (T17). All four of those golfers are within five of Kang and three of Im, which is not much ground to make up over the next three days. Further down the board are Viktor Hovland (T31), Brooks Koepka (T60) and Will Zalatoris (T60).
For now, though, Friday is about whether Kang can extend (or even maintain) his lead. Recent history…
Source : cbssports