2019 Tournament of Champions scores: Superstars close to Kevin Tway's lead after Round 1
Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas all had nice days at Kapalua to open the calendar
Golf has started for 2019, and we have a possibly unlikely leader after 18 holes at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. We'll get to him in a minute -- as well as the superstars chasing him -- but first I have to say how nice it is to have golf back (and primetime Hawaiian golf in the dead of winter here in the continental U.S. no less!).
First place -- Kevin Tway (-7): Tway got in via his Safeway Open win in the fall, and he's taking advantage of it so far. The former Oklahoma State Cowboy was low man of the day with his bogey-free 66. And he did it all battling some sinus issues. Tway said after the round the most difficult part of his day was staying upright, which is Part 384 in the chronicles of "beware of the injured golfer."
Last place -- Satoshi Kodaira and Keegan Bradley (+4): Bradley actually birdied two of his last four holes to rise to this slot. Not a great day for either of them, but there's plenty of time left to make up a little ground.
Other contenders -- Gary Woodland (-6), Justin Thomas (-6), Dustin Johnson (-6): Three guys who are playing terrific golf right now are just behind Tway at 7 under, and Woodland might be playing the best of all three of them. He's coming in off of six top 10s in seven events and said both before and after his round that he's supremely confident in the way he's putting right now. That could be problematic.
Who had a great day? Outside of that trio, Rory McIlroy (-4) also played pretty well. He birdied three of his last four to make a late charge in his debut at this event and gave us the traj of the day with this drive on the back nine. Look at this traj!
Who had a lousy day? Brooks Koepka is now 16 over in his last five rounds at Kapalua after shooting a 3-over 76 on Thursday. Last year he had an injury to blame. This year? That doesn't appear to be the case, which makes him being one shot out of last place after the first round pretty curious.
Stat of the day: There were only two drives over 400 yards in windy conditions, and they both came on the 17th hole. Cameron Champ hit one 403 yards, and Gary Woodland hit one 400. I'd expect a lot more over the final three days.
Shot of the day: Patton Kizzire made the first ace of the new year with this gem at the par-3 8th hole. He said he was just trying to find the green. Instead he found the bottom of the cup.
One thing I loved: Bryson DeChambeau putting with the pin in was everything I wanted it to be and maybe more. It looked preposterous -- which is fitting for him -- but it worked, which is also fitting for him.
Quote of the day: Bubba Watson hollering "me and Bryson!" after chipping in for birdie with the pin in the hole late in his round. I laughed out loud.
What to watch on Day 2: Tway was terrific in Round 1, and he has a chance to be a really solid golfer on the PGA Tour for several years. But I don't expect him to hold on to that lead with D.J., J.T., McIlroy, Bryson DeChambeau (-4), Jason Day (-4) and even Jon Rahm (-4) breathing down his neck. The winner of this event usually sniffs 20 under (last year it was 24 under from D.J.) so you have to hit the gas all four days, and I'm intrigued to see which of those superstars does that on Friday.
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