The best player of one generation had to bow out of the Hero World Challenge earlier this week, but the best player of another one, perhaps, leads the golf tournament after Round 1. Tiger Woods looked on from the television booth Thursday as Tom Kim shot a 3-under 69 to co-lead with Sepp Straka, Collin Morikawa and Viktor Hovland after the first day of this stacked tournament in the Bahamas.
Let's take a look at Kim's round and who will be chasing him over the next three days at Albany Golf Club.
T1. Tom Kim, Viktor Hovland, Collin Morikawa, Sepp Straka (-3): On a windswept day off the Pacific Ocean, ball-strikers shined. And while I'm exaggerating about Kim being the best player of his generation, I might also not be exaggerating. He had the cleanest card of the day with 15 pars and three birdies as he looks for what would be his third win since August.
It's fair to say that nobody even knew who Tom Kim was eight months (maybe even five months ago), and now he's on the precipice of having three OWGR wins in the last five months of the year, including an event hosted by Tiger Woods.
"I'm very grateful for it," he said. "I definitely don't take it for granted and I'm extremely grateful to be 20 years old and to play on the PGA Tour. "But I've worked really hard for it and I'm enjoying every moment out there, so it's really fun."
5. Sam Burns (-2)
T6. Tommy Fleetwood, Max Homa (-1)
T9. Tony Finau, Justin Thomas, Xander Schauffele, Scottie Scheffler (E)
As is evident from the scoring on Thursday -- which was about as tough as this golf course gets), this board is bunched and there should be a ton of movement on Friday and Saturday going into Sunday. Fleetwood interests me here and not just because he was one of my picks coming into the week. He's been as hot as anyone in the world over the last few months (three top fives in his last three starts), and he could takeinto what I believe could be a monstrous 2023.
J.T.'s card, it should be mentioned, was a beautiful disaster. Six birdies were offset by two bogeys and two doubles. Add it all up, and you get an even-par 72. He's very much still in the mix.
This time last year, Collin Morikawa -- who got married recently -- took a six-stroke lead into the final round of this event. With a win, he would have become the No. 1 player in the world. He lost, Hovland won and Morikawa has yet to reach that top spot. He can't do so this week, but after a year in which he felt like he was answering a ton of questions about what's wrong with his game (answer: nothing), it would be sweet for him to seal the deal on his first win of the year.
"Getting engaged last year, coming back as a married man, it really [is a special place to me]," Morikawa said. "It's obviously a beautiful location to be in the Bahamas beginning of December and obviously to end this season hopefully on a good note, it's just kind of give it all you've got. 2022's been a weird year for me, golf-wise it's been a weird year, but hopefully we can kind of turn that around and slowly start to see some things towards the end of the year."
2022 Hero World Challenge odds, picks
- Viktor Hovland: 13/2
- Collin Morikawa: 7-1
- Tom Kim: 7-1
- Jon Rahm: 10-1
- Tony Finau: 11-1
- Sam Burns: 11-1
- Scottie Scheffler: 11-1
Rahm is getting a ton of respect after shooting a 1-over 73 and deservedly so. You could make the case that he's been the best player in the world for the last four months. I prefer somebody a bit down the board, though. Fleetwood is still 18-1 despite a nice start, and there's more value in playing him than in Morikawa, Hovland or Rahm. Finau at 11-1 is also sneaky nice after the year (and fall) he's had.