Kurt Kitayama entered the Honda Classic having made 25 appearances on the PGA Tour. Most of these ended in the top 25.
He is on track to do better in the Honda Classic this week.
Kitayama — ranked No. Kitayama — ranked No. 289 in the world — shot a 6-under 64 at PGA National to lead Daniel Berger and Chris Kirk by one shot. Kitayama shot his best score in 69 rounds of the PGA Tour thanks to a run of four consecutive birdies on the second nine.
He is a surprising leader considering that he didn’t expect such a start.
Kitayama, a Californian native who played in UNLV’s tour events, said that although it was not the best start, she felt like she had been playing well and that her putting has improved. She missed 16 of 25 cuts in total.
Berger was also bogey-free and failed to make an 8-foot birdie attempt on the par-5 18th. He settled for 65.
Peter Uihlein was among the group at number 67. Danny Willett was also there. Brooks Koepka was a Palm Beach County native who was playing a home match this week. He was in a group of 68. Joaquin Niemann was the Genesis at Riviera in Los Angeles last week and was 4 under through 12, before giving up and getting an even-par 70.
Koepka stated, “I didn’t do anything to deserve to be 4 or 5-under.” “That’s an amazing score. It was just a matter of “ho-humming it around”.
Norman decided that he did not want it that way.
Norman, who owns LIV Golf Investments and is financed primarily by the Saudi Arabia sovereign wealth funds headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, offered the latest twist to the story by releasing a letter he wrote Jay Monahan, PGA Tour Commissioner. Norman claimed Monahan “bullied and intimidated” players to stay on the tour, and for refusing Norman’s proposed super league with the Saudis.
He said that players want to play. It’s not clear who does. Many top players have made it clear that they don’t. Rory McIlroy and both said the notion was dead in the water.
Norman wrote to Monahan, “I know for a certainty that many PGA golfers were and are still interested in playing in a new league in addition to the Tour.” “What’s wrong with that?”
Monahan stated this week that players who sign-up for a Saudi league golf league will lose their PGA Tour Membership and should not expect to be able to get it back.
Other news: Actual golf was played.
Kitayama opened on the back nine and had three consecutive birdies. He then went on to have four consecutive birdies. Kitayama’s day was completed with a run of four birdies. His 15th hole of today, the par-4 6, saw him hit a 20-footer just off the green.
Kitayama stated that the conditions of the course were perfect. It’s really difficult.
It was easy for him. So did Sabbatini, Berger.
Sabbatini was the Honda 2011 winner. He shot a 65-hole round without a bogey and had four birdies on the back nine. Sabbatini was playing PGA National for the first time as a professional without making a bogey.
Sabbatini stated, “I’m very aware of it.”
Berger, whose back has been iffy lately, was 5 under through 11 and then finished with seven consecutive points.
Berger, who grew to play junior golf at PGA National, said that “it’s nice to get started to a good plan.”
Sabbatini and Kitayama are not bombers; Kitayama was tied for 74th on the tour in driving distance, while Sabbatini was tied for 172nd. This makes PGA National a popular course, even though it isn’t overpowered.
Sabbatini, 45, said that he is now at a point in his game where he feels more competitive. “There are too many guys here who have more firepower so I’ve got to pick and choose how I navigate the course. It’s more like a game of chess than throwing darts.
DIVOTS: The defending champion Matt Jones shot a first-round 61 last season. On Thursday, he shot 73. Erik Compton was two days short of the 30th anniversary his first of two heart transplants. He was part of a group that shot just 69. Curtis Thompson shot a par-4 6th hole eagle from 204 yards, which was the longest distance since the Honda moved to PGA National. Sam Ryder shot a solid 71 considering that he put two balls into the water on the par-3 17th hole and made a quadruple bogey 7. Hudson Swafford began 8 over through six holes, making three bogeys and then two doubles. Then he made another bogey. He shot a 78 the rest of the round. Stewart Cink also shot an uncharacteristically low 78. This is two shots more than any round he has had in his 14 previous Honda appearances.