Thursday's roundup: Cink, Laird share Las Vegas lead
Las Vegas — Stewart Cink birdied seven of the final 11 holes Thursday for a 7-under 64 and a share of the first-round lead with Martin Laird in the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.
Cink had a bogey-free round at TPC Summerlin in his first start since dropping out of the FedEx Cup playoffs after the second event. He won the last of his six PGA Tour titles in the 2009 British Open.
"Well, 64 is good for anybody, I think, but on the first day of the year, you don't really ever know what's going to come out, the first day of the season," Cink said. "It's been six weeks since I played and you have to prepare yourself to be ready for both, a great start and a not so great start, and just be ready to keep going.
"I have to be honest, through seven holes I had seven pars and it didn't look like anything special out there except a whole lot of grazed putts. I just kind of was patient and waited for a good stretch, and a good stretch happened."
Laird also had a bogey-free round. He played the front nine in 5-under 30 and added birdies on Nos. 15 and 18, holing a 50-foot putt on the last. The Scot won the 2009 event and lost in a playoff in 2010 when Jonathan Byrd made a hole-in-one on the fourth extra hole.
"I missed a bunch of opportunities on the back nine, putted great on the front and hit it actually better on the back than I did the front nine, just kept missing 8-, 10-footers," Laird said. "Then I said to my caddie walking up the last, watch, 'This will be typical, I've just missed 8-, 10-footers and I'll probably make this 50-footer.' And I did, so it was just one of those days, and it was nice to see that one go in."
Scotland's Russell Knox was third at 66. He played his first 11 holes in 7 under, dropped strokes on Nos. 5 and 6 and closed with a birdie on No. 9.
"Got off to a good start, made a nice putt on the first hole, and the front nine I played so well," Knox said. "I hit it good, putted unbelievable. Just got a little ahead of myself, started thinking about that magic number a little too early."
Jarrod Lyle, Bo Van Pelt, Hideki Matsuyama, Sam Saunders, Brian Stuard (Jackson, Oakland University) and Andrew Svoboda shot 66.
Lyle is making his second PGA Tour start since a recurrence of leukemia some 18 months ago. The Australian tied for 31st last week in the season-opening Frys.com Open in Napa, California.
"It was a good round today," Lyle said. "Got off to a bit of a shaky start, but I rolled some putts in and just kept myself out of trouble, which is a nice thing to do."
Tom Gillis (Lake Orion) and Justin Hicks (Grosse Ile) each shot a 72.
World Match Play Championship
Defending champion Graeme McDowell's comeback fell short in a 2-and-1 loss to Mikko Ilonen, and Henrik Stenson rallied from three holes down to edge Francesco Molinari 2 and 1 in round-robin play in the World Match Play Championship in Ash, England.
Joost Luiten beat Alexander Levy 4 and 3 to improve to 2-0 in the Larson group. McDowell and Ilonen are 1-1, and Levy — the winner of the rain-shortened Portugal Masters last week — is 0-2. After round-robin play in the four four-man groups, the top two in each group will advance to the quarterfinals at The London Golf Club.
Victor Dubuisson improved to 2-0 in the Gabrielsson with a 3-and-2 victory over Shane Lowry. Lowery and Pablo Larrazabal are 1-1, and Stephen Gallacher is 0-2.
In the McCormack group, Patrick Reed, Paul Casey, Jamie Donaldson and Jonas Blixt are all 1-1. Reed beat Casey 2 and 1. Stenson and George Coetzee top the Palmer group at 1-0-1, Thongchai Jaidee is 1-1, and Molinari 0-2.
Haeji Kang shot a 5-under 67 to take a two-stroke lead over five players, including three fellow South Koreans, after the first round of the LPGA KEB-Hanabank Championship in Incheon, South Korea.
Defending champion Amy Yang, Lee Il-hee and Mirim Lee were in the group at 69 Sky72's wind-swept Ocean Course along with Australia's Minjee Lee and Scotland's Catriona Matthew.
Fourth-ranked Suzann Pettersen of Norway and American Brittany Lincicome topped the group at 70.
Second-ranked Inbee Park, in position to move to No. 1 in the world with a win in the absence of top-ranked Stacy Lewis, opened with a 71. Park married swing coach Gi Hyeob-nam on Monday in Seoul.
U.S. Women's Open champion Michelle Wie opened with a 76. She's making her first start since withdrawing during the first round of the Evian Championship in September after reinjuring a stress fracture in her right hand. Women's British Open winner Mo Martin had a 78 in her return from a thumb injury.
Hong Kong Open
India's Jyoti Randhawa shot a 6-under 64 to take a one-stroke lead after the first round of the Hong Kong Open.
Angelo Que of the Philippines was second, and South Africa's Ernie Els topped the group at 66 in the event sanctioned by European and Asian tours.
Four-time champion Miguel Angel Jimenez struggled with food poisoning in a 72. The 50-year-old Spaniard won the Hong Kong Open in 2004, '07, '12 and '13.