Put­nam shoots 62, but a rookie was bet­ter at Sony Open

Tri-City Herald - - Front Page - BY DOUG FER­GU­SON

Adam Svens­son of Canada capped off a rookie round to re­mem­ber with a 10-foot birdie putt for a 9-un­der 61 to take a one-shot lead in the open­ing round Thurs­day at the Sony Open.

An­drew Put­nam set a tar­get in the morn­ing that looked tough to beat with a 62. As the wind be­gan to die late in the day, the

25-year-old Svens­son ran off four straight birdies to tie for the lead, and then did one bet­ter with a tough up-and-down right of the green on the par-5

18th.

Matt Kuchar had a 63 play­ing in the af­ter­noon.

Jor­dan Spi­eth was hope­ful of bet­ter in his 2019 de­but. He had to wait un­til his 16th hole, the

par-3 sev­enth, for his first birdie of the year. And that was all he made in a round of 73 that left him need­ing a low round just to make it to the week­end.

He still man­aged to keep it en­ter­tain­ing, es­pe­cially with the new rules.

Spi­eth, like most play­ers, doesn’t un­der­stand the vis­ually awk­ward change of drop­ping from knee-height in­stead of shoul­der-height. Six holes into his round, his tee shot came up inches short of a sprin­kler head. He called for a rul­ing and was given re­lief be­cause of the po­ten­tial of in­jury or dam­ag­ing the club. Then, he did what he has done his en­tire golf­ing life – he held the ball at the level of his shoul­der.

Slug­ger White, the tour’s vice pres­i­dent of com­pe­ti­tion, stopped him. Had he dropped and played the shot, it would have been a penalty. If not, he could have dropped again from the proper height.

“I’m like, ‘Wouldn’t it just be a re-drop any­way? What’s the big deal?’ ” Spi­eth said. “It’s un­usual.”

He caught him­self from drop­ping shoul­der-height be­hind the

18th green. He also tapped in for par on the open­ing hole with the flag­stick still in the cup, an­other change that is get­ting plenty of at­ten­tion early in the year.

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