Aussie Smith leads at Kapalua, top-ranked Rahm one again


Cameron Smith rolled in two lengthy eagle putts on the best way to an eight-under-par 65 and a one-shot lead over world primary Jon Rahm and two others within the US PGA Tour Tournament of Champions on Thursday.

Australia’s Smith shook off a sluggish begin to set the tempo on the par-73 Plantation Course at Kapalua in Hawaii, however he had little respiration room within the elite occasion for final season’s winners.

Spain’s Rahm had seven birdies with out a bogey in his 66 and was joined at seven-under by FedEx Cup champion Patrick Cantlay and fellow American Daniel Berger.

“I started off pretty terribly, to be honest,” mentioned Smith, who bogeyed the par-three second gap.

He bounced again with a birdie on the third, then drained a 44-foot eagle putt on the fifth and birdied the ninth to make the flip three-under.

Smith caught hearth coming in choosing up 5 strokes in 4 holes with birdies at 13, 14, and 16 sandwiched round an eagle at 15, the place he rolled in a 37-foot putt.

“I just needed those two eagles to get a really low one happening,” Smith mentioned. “Obviously two really long putts and (I was) probably quite fortunate that they went in, but they went in.”

Rahm, whose 2021 season included a maiden main victory on the US Open and PGA Player of the Year honors, birdied the par-five fifth, then picked up strokes on the sixth and seventh — the place he made a 24-foot putt.

He gave himself a two-footer for birdie at 13, then picked up strokes at 14 and 16 earlier than two-putting for birdie from 91 ft on the par-five 18th.

“It’s always good to come out and start the year off the right way,” mentioned Rahm, who like many within the first US PGA Tour occasion of 2022 has taken a while off in current weeks.

“I mean, you can always expect a little bit of rust. But, again, I took time off, but I wasn’t on the couch, right, doing nothing. I was still working out. I was still practicing as if I was still in the season. I took maybe three weeks off of golf, which were very needed. But even though I was home, I was practicing.”

Cantlay surged into his share of second, choosing up six photographs within the area of 5 holes from the 13th by means of the 17th.

That included 4 birdies and his 36-foot eagle on the 15th. But he was unable to reap the benefits of the par-five ending gap.

“I think that stretch of the golf course in general is the most scorable part,” Cantlay mentioned. “Then I hit a lot of quality shots and it had been a little time coming, it felt, because I made so many pars on the first 12 holes or so.”

South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen, South Korean Im Sung-jae and American Kevin Na had been two adrift on 67.

British Open champion Collin Morikawa, who can overtake Rahm for the primary rating with a victory this week, was amongst 5 gamers on 68, a gaggle that additionally included four-time main champion Brooks Koepka, Joel Dahmen, Talor Gooch and Garrick Higgo.

Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama of Japan and Olympic gold medallist Xander Schauffele had been in an enormous group on 69.

The different main winner of 2021, PGA Champion Phil Mickelson, fired a two-under 71 in his first look within the occasion in 21 years.

“It’s a beautiful place and every hole has such scenery, and so forth, but it is a hard golf course to walk,” the 51-year-old mentioned. “I’m hurting.

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