Bogey-free Tom Kim shares Hero World Challenge lead

Kim Joo-hyung put together the only bogey-free round of the day Thursday, carding a three-under par 69 to join a four-way tie for the first-round lead at the Hero World Challenge.

South Korea’s Kim opened with 10 straight pars at the Albany course in the Bahamas, where a rain-softened course and some whipping winds made for treacherous conditions.

He was tied atop the leaderboard with defending champion Victor Hovland of Norway, two-time major champion Collin Morikawa of the United States and Austria’s Sepp Straka.

“I gave myself a lot of opportunities,” Kim said. “Definitely, if some things went my way, I could have got a couple more, but with the conditions that we’ve had today, the no bogey is very, very acceptable.

“I gave myself a good chance to kind of play well the next three days,” added Kim, who rolled in a 12-foot birdie putt at the 11th and pitched to two feet at the par-four 14th for a birdie. He moved atop the leaderboard with a birdie at 18, where his 190-yard five-iron approach shot left him two feet.

In October, Kim — known as Tom for his boyhood love of Thomas the Tank Engine — became the second-youngest player in PGA Tour history to capture multiple titles with a victory at the Shriners Children’s Open in Las Vegas.

The Seoul-born son of a teaching professional who grew up in Australia had won his first tour title at Greensboro in August and has risen to 15th in the world rankings.

As his 2022 draws to a close with his first appearance in the elite invitational hosted by Tiger Woods, Kim said he was “very grateful” for where he finds himself.

“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,” Kim said. “But I’ve worked really hard for it and I’m enjoying every moment out there, so it’s really fun.”

Kim’s rise this season included a Presidents Cup call-up, but despite his successes he admitted he had to “pinch myself” when he got a chance to chat with Woods for the first time this week.

“We didn’t talk about anything serious, it was just a lot of small talk,” said Kim, adding he told Woods players were going to miss him on the course after the 15-time major champion pulled out of the playing field on Monday with plantar fasciitis.

“It was really nice, it was the first time I officially got to meet him and talk to him a little bit,” said Kim, who “unofficially” met Woods when he had his picture taken with him at the 2020 PGA Championship.

Hovland had moved atop the leaderboard at four-under with an eagle at the driveable par-four 14th, where his tee shot threatened the hole and left him a putt of less than three feet.

But he ran afoul of the tough 16th, where his tee shot was in scrubby, sandy rough and he needed two shots to get out.

Morikawa and Straka both had six birdies and three bogeys in their three-under efforts. (AFP)

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