Dylan Wu tied for 16th after first round of Sony Open
HONOLULU — Dylan Wu didn’t wait long to make a run toward the top of the leaderboard during the opening round of the Sony Open on Thursday afternoon.
Wu, the Medford native and St. Mary’s High grad who earned his PGA Tour card last year, shot up the leaderboard thanks to five birdies in his first nine holes as he started his first round on the back nine. Rising as high as tied for 11th as he made the turn, Wu continued his strong first round, finishing with a 5-under 65 to sit in a tie for 16th place after one round at Waialae Country Club.
The impressive nine-hole roll to open his round started with birdies on three of his first four holes. Wu, who was playing in the last group of the day, cracked the top 20 when he hit another bird on the par-4 16th hole, sinking an 18 1/2-foot putt to move to 4 under.
After hitting his tee shot out of a bunker on the par-5 18th, Wu blasted a hybrid out of the bunker to have a shot at an eagle. He settled for a birdie, putting in from 4 feet out.
Wu began his play on the front nine with five straight pars, but hit a bogey on the par-4 fifth hole to drop back down to 4 under.
He finished with two pars and a sixth birdie on his final hole to enter today’s second round four shots back of leader Kevin Na, who shot a 9-under 61. Na is one shot ahead of Jim Furyk and Russell Henley in second at 8 under.
Na 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 the 51-year-old 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.”
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 Henley were at 62, with Kevin Chappell and Seamus Power of Ireland 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.
Furyk won so long ago at Waialae that it was a year before 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.
DIVOTS: Joshua Creel withdrew after a 72 because of a positive COVID-19 test. Creel was the first player since Hideki Matsuyama at the Rocket Mortgage Classic last July to test positive during a tournament.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.