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Defending champ Na fires sizzling 61 to lead in Hawaii

LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Defending champion Kevin Na equalled his career-low round with a nine-under-par 61 on Thursday to lead the US PGA Tour Sony Open in Hawaii.

Na had a crack at the 13th sub-60 round ever on the Tour and the South Korean-born American admitted he felt a little bit disappointed that he couldn’t pull it off.

“I did everything well today and my iron play was amazing,” Na said. “And I tell you what, I had a chance for a 59. I gave it all I could.

“I’m a little disappointed my putts didn’t fall, some of the good putts that I hit didn’t fall. But it’s still a good round.” Na had a one-stroke lead over Jim Furyk and Russell Henley after the first round.

Furyk – who owns two of those sub-60 Tour rounds with a 59 and a 58 on his resume – aced the par-three 17th on his way to firing a 62 at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu.
The 51-year-old American set an early target and was joined on eight-under by Henley, who fired eight birdies.

Na, like Henley, enjoyed benign afternoon conditions and steamed through the front nine with four birdies before he rolled in a six-foot eagle putt at the ninth.

After birdies at 10 and 12 pushed him to eight-under it looked like a 59 could be within his grasp.

But Na saw a 17-foot birdie putt narrowly miss at 16, had to save par from a bunker on the 17th before draining a six-foot birdie putt at the par-five 18th for sole possession of the lead.

He overtook Furyk, who found himself in contention more than a quarter-century after winning the title at Waialae in 1996.

“Great memories,” Furyk said. “It’s a great course. It’s a little longer than I remember it but it’s a great way to start off.”

Kevin Na of the United States plays his shot from the 14th tee. PHOTO: AFP
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