Byeong Hun An thrilled his home crowd with an 8-under 64 Thursday to take the first-round lead at The CJ Cup in Jeju, South Korea.
The first South Korean player ever to lead this event after any round, An carded eight birdies in a bogey-free loop at The Club at Nine Bridges. He leads by one shot over Chile’s Joaquin Niemann and by two over Australian Jason Day. Five others are tied for fourth at 5 under.
With a 3-under 69, Norway’s Viktor Hovland kept his remarkable streak going with his 18th consecutive round in the 60s — the longest on the PGA Tour since 1983. Bob Estes had a 17-round streak in 2001.
Defending champion and world No. 1 Brooks Koepka also signed for a 69 after making an eagle at the par-5 18th hole.
Jason Thomas, winner of the inaugural 2017 CJ Cup, shot 68.
“Overall a good way to start. I felt I played a lot better than my score,” Thomas said. “Anytime you play where you’ve won before, it creates a lot of good memories.”
Phil Mickelson and Jordan Spieth both opened with rounds of 70 in their tournament debuts here.
In addition to the 28-year-old An, four other Korean-born players are in the top 10 after one round: Danny Lee and Jung Gon-Hwang are in the group tied for fourth, and Soomin Lee and Sungjae Im are tied for ninth at 4 under.
Niemann, Day, Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell (68) and Ryan Moore (69) joined An with bogey-free opening rounds.
As the PGA Tour opens its three-tournament swing through Asia, Day is hoping to impress international team captain Ernie Els and land a spot on the Presidents Cup roster. The event is scheduled for Dec. 9-15 at The Royal Melbourne Golf Club in Day’s native Australia.
“It is certainly disappointing not to make the team on my own merits. But it is a reminder that nothing is given to you in this game,” Day said Thursday.
“I certainly want to be on the team and believe I can be an asset to the Internationals. Being in my home country certainly gives me an edge and I’ve had some success on the sandbelt (courses) and Royal Melbourne in the past.”
—Field Level Media