Golf News

Golf-Rising star Morikawa tames strong winds to lead in Hawaii

Jan 9 (Reuters) - Collin Morikawa displayed a wise head beyond his 22 years in strong winds to vault to a three-shot lead after his opening round at the Sony Open in Hawaii on Thursday.

Morikawa handled the windswept conditions with aplomb, though riding his luck at times after some errant drives, while running up five birdies in a five-under-par 65 at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu.

Nobody else managed better than 68 among the morning starters.

“I didn’t hit my driver that well but other than that (it was) really good,” Morikawa told Golf Channel.

“Lot of crosswinds out here. You’ve got to hit fairways and I didn’t do a great job of that today.

“I got some lucky breaks with where I was in the rough. I didn’t make a lot of putts but made the ones I needed to for birdie.”

Morikawa, born in Los Angeles of Hawaiian and Japanese heritage, turned pro last June, and took only six starts to clinch his first PGA Tour victory at the Barracuda Championship in Nevada.

Part of an exciting wave of fearless young players with seemingly unlimited potential, he is already ranked 55th in the world but says he needs to sharpen up his driving to stay atop the leaderboard.

“Next few days I have to hit a few more fairways and we’ll be good from there,” he said.

While Morikawa showed the field a pair of clean heels, Australian Marc Leishman, South African-born Slovakian Rory Sabbatini and American Patrick Rodgers battled hard to card 68. (Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; editing by Grant McCool)