Las Vegas — Whee Kim birdied two of his final three holes for a 6-under 65 and a one-stroke lead Thursday in the PGA Tour’s Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.
The 25-year-old South Korean player birdied all three par-5 holes at TPC Summerlin, Nos. 13 and 16 on his first nine and No. 9 on his second nine.
“I had a really good putting all day,” Kim said. “Didn’t miss any putts. I think I didn’t do any stupid mistakes all day. I think that was key. The greens were a little slower than what I expected like the last two years. But it was still fast and firm.”
John Huh was at 66 with J.J. Spaun, Ryan Blaum and Alex Cejka. Jimmy Stanger also was 5 under with three holes left when play was suspended because of darkness.
Kim was fourth two weeks ago in South Korea in the PGA Tour’s CJ Cup.
“It’s a nice start. I feel more comfortable,” Kim said. “I played really good and my fans were really happy. … Yeah, it’s nice. I think I’m in a really good position on Thursday right here in Las Vegas. I feel really comfortable. Just happy.
Huh birdied four of his last six holes and had only 24 putts.
“Any time you putt under 30, I think it’s a good round,” Huh said. “That’s the key that I was able to shoot 5-under par today.
Spaun rebounded from consecutive bogeys to birdie three of the last four.
“I feel like it’s more not trying to press so early on in a tournament,” Spaun said. “You feel like as a rookie you’ve got to come out guns blazing, and you’ve got to tear it up right away. Fortunately, today I kind of did that, but I wasn’t forcing it. It was just kind of staying patient.”
Blaum hit 17 of 18 greens in regulation.
“The iron play was solid,” Blaum said. “I put a new driver in the bag this week and it was working well off the tee. Even when I was missing the fairway, I was only a few feet off and had a good look at the hole location, whatever it was. I was missing it on the right side.”
Billy Horschel was two strokes back at 67 along with Bryson DeChambeau, Jason Kokrak, Daniel Summerhays, Peter Malnati, Kevin Chappell, Kelly Kraft, Patrick Cantlay and Brett Stegmaier.
Horschel is coming off a seven-week break.
“I’ve worked really hard on my game,” Horschel said. “Todd Anderson and I have done some really good work. You’re always a little apprehensive coming out to your first event, and also on top of the work, seeing how is it going to translate over from practicing. It’s been really nice all week. Is it exactly where I want? No. But it’s a lot better than it’s been for the last year and a half.”
Charley Hoffman opened his hometown event with a 68. He eagled the par-4 15th after driving to 6 feet.
“I was able to make the putt,” Hoffman said. “That was nice to get the round going.”
Ryan Armour, the winner Sunday in Mississippi for his first PGA Tour title, also had a 68.
Defending champion Rod Pampling opened with a 70.
Bubba Watson had a 72 in his first round of the season.
At Antalya, Turkey, Joost Luiten, Haydn Porteous and Nicolas Colsaerts all shot 7-under 64s to tie for the lead after the first round of the Turkish Airlines Open.
Padraig Harrington (65) was a shot off the lead with his lowest score of the year, with Ian Poulter (66) and Lee Westwood (67) close behind.
Race to Dubai leader Tommy Fleetwood shot 71.