NASSAU, Bahamas — Sepp Straka was residence in Alabama getting ready for a giant week of golf matches at his membership, a good friend’s wedding ceremony and the SEC championship recreation. After which Tiger Woods could not play within the Bahamas due to a foot harm, and Straka had a change in plans.
It labored out OK for him.
The substitute for Woods managed six birdies at rain-soaked Albany for a 3-under 69 that gave him a share of the lead on the Hero World Problem with defending champion Viktor Hovland, Tom Kim and Collin Morikawa.
Straka was first off within the pro-am, the time often occupied by Woods. He was paired with Justin Thomas, who usually performs the primary spherical with Woods.
Did he get anything from the event host?
“The iron recreation wasn’t nearly as good as his, however possibly rubbed off just a little bit on me,” Straka. “So yeah, that was good.”
Hovland was the one participant to succeed in 4 underneath at any level earlier than a bogey on the sixteenth. He’s attempting to affix Woods as the one gamers to win this vacation occasion back-to-back.
Hovland is staying with Morikawa once more. A 12 months in the past, Morikawa had a five-shot lead and wanted a win to succeed in No. 1 on the earth when he shot 76 within the remaining spherical and Hovland rallied with a 66 to win.
After which there’s Kim, the 20-year-old rising star from South Korea who already has received twice on the PGA Tour and delivered on a giant stage within the Presidents Cup. His week started by assembly Woods for the primary time — “It was actually cool. I’ve to pinch myself just a little bit,” he stated — after which he in some way went bogey-free at Albany.
The course usually yields low scores, apart from rain that left foot-deep puddles in a number of the sandy areas and made chipping troublesome from tight lies on soggy turf.
Kim was very good together with his quick recreation. He was within the entrance bunker on the par-3 seventeenth and clipped the shot of muddied sand with such pace that it checked 3 toes from the opening.
Cameron Younger, who got here inside inches of an ace on the opening, smiled at his father and stated, “He is allergic to bogeys.”
Younger, the PGA Tour rookie of the 12 months and one among seven newcomers to the elite, 20-man area, had a 71 and was amongst solely eight gamers who broke par.
Straka is the one participant to have by no means performed in a Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup at Albany. He’s No. 29 on the earth, a winner for the primary time on the Honda Traditional, earlier within the 12 months, and had no intention of being within the Bahamas.
He’s a member at Shoal Creek, and this was the week of the membership matches in opposition to Greystone. J.T. Poston, a two-time winner on tour, is getting married on Friday. The massive day was Saturday, when Georgia performs LSU in Atlanta.
He was about to tee off Monday afternoon to prepare for the matches when the decision got here in to say Woods had plantar fasciitis in his proper foot and wouldn’t be taking part in.
It was a straightforward resolution for Straka, who was born and raised in Austria and moved to Valdosta, Georgia, when he was 14, performed at Georgia and bounces seamlessly between German and Southern in speech.
“It was an enormous alternative and simply superior to be right here,” he stated.
Masters champion Scottie Scheffler, a runner-up on the World Problem final 12 months, had a 72. He must win to get again to No. 1 on the earth.
As for Woods, he stored up his presence on the event spending time within the tv sales space. He has not performed for the reason that Open Championship in July.