Honolulu, HI (SportsNetwork.com) - Sang-Moon Bae fired a 7-under-par 63 on Thursday to grab a 1-stroke lead after the opening round of the Sony Open in Hawaii.
Bae, who earned his first PGA Tour win at the Byron Nelson Championship last year, went bogey-free with seven birdies at Waialae Country Club.
"I think I played well last week (at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions), but really tough greens," said Bae. "Very hard to read. I couldn't read any right- to-left putts -- any putts -- so I missed a lot of puts last week. But this course is more shorter than last week, so easy read, and I can make good speed, too."
Chris Kirk, playing in the same group as Bae, shot 6-under 64 to snare second place, while Ryan Palmer and Brian Stuard both carded 65s to share third.
Seven players are tied for fifth place at 4-under 66, including two-time major champions John Daly and Retief Goosen.
World No. 2 Adam Scott and Jason Dufner are part of a group tied for 12th at 3-under 67 and last week's Tournament of Champions winner Zach Johnson shares 25th place with several others after carding an opening-round 68.
Bae and Kirk teed off in the morning from the first tee and it was the former who set the early pace, reeling off five birdies over his first nine holes. Bae dropped a 7-iron within three feet at the first, drained a 25-foot birdie roll at the third and didn't relent over his opening nine.
Kirk, meanwhile, started slow with bogeys at the third and sixth, but he eventually responded to his playing partner's challenge, notching four birdies in a five-hole span from the eighth.
After additional birdies at the 15th and 16th, Kirk, who is seeking his second victory of the 2013-2014 season, eagled the par-5 18th to wrap up his 64.
"He was off to a great start," Kirk said of Bae. "At one point he was 4-under and I was still 2-over. It took some catching up for me on the back nine. But it's always nice to see putts falling."
Bae cooled somewhat on the back nine, but he managed a pair of birdies and didn't drop a shot, parring out from the 15th to end the opening round with the lead.
NOTES: Bae's 63 marked his career-low round on the PGA Tour. He tied for 21st last week at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions ... Kirk won the McGladrey Classic in November. He is a two-time PGA Tour winner, with the other coming at the 2011 Viking Classic ... Defending champion Russell Henley is tied for 118th at 3-over 73 ... Hideki Matsuyama withdrew prior to the first round with a wrist injury. He was replaced by Robert Streb, who shot even-par.