Kapalua, Hawaii — The scenery near Kapalua feels chilly. The Sentinel Championship scoreboard sent a clear message to move on.
Cameron Smith Take it to heart on Friday.
Smith opened with two bogeys and not only lost his one-shot lead, but completely fell off the first page of the leaderboard. Then the Aussie made a stunning recovery, finishing with four straight birdies for a 9-under 64 and a three-shot lead.
“Very few bad hits, stupid three-putts for the second,” Smith said. “I had to hit the reset button.”
Smith shot 17-under 129 to tie the Ernie Els In 2003, he beat the winners-only venue by eight strokes.
Smith didn’t think the weekend would be that easy.
Luckily for another day of ideal scoring conditions – warm sunshine, a Hawaiian-standard breeze and the preferred lie of Plantation Course as it recovers from the rain – all 38 players were at par or better. The average score was 67.8, nearly two strokes higher than Thursday.
Patrick CantleyThe FedEx Cup winner and PGA Player of the Year, who has not played since the Ryder Cup in late September, missed an 8-foot birdie putt on the final hole and had to shoot a 67. He is four shots behind and has reason to be optimistic.
The longest of Cantlay’s six birdie putts was less than 6 feet. He missed four birdie putts from about 10 feet or less.
“I played really well and got nothing,” Cantlay said. “It just means my game is in a good position and I’m ready for a good weekend.”
The same goes for Lahm, who has not played since missing the cut in Spain on October 15, and wants to get some rest. His ideal of getting off the plane in Maui, going to the golf course, and playing like he never left was a little over the top.
He practices. He’s committed to his body and his game. And he played like he never left.
“If anyone expected rust — which I did a little bit — it really wasn’t there,” Ram said.
Anything worse than 68 means losing ground.
Phil MickelsonThe 51-year-old PGA champion came to Kapalua for the first time in 21 years, and they were just one shot away from the leader when they started. It could never last, and the southpaw’s wild drive on the 17th didn’t help his career, resulting in a bogey and then missing a 3-foot par putt to end his round. Those bogeys got him a 69. He tied for 30th.
Smith wasn’t alone in his poor start.British Open champion Colin Morikawa He made two bogeys on the front nine and missed a birdie. He has five birdies in his last eight games for a 70 and is nine shots behind the leader in his bid to be No. 1 in the world.
Bryson DeChambeau He wasn’t in a rush to get anywhere, and then he had reason to hope the round would never end. He birdied five of his final seven holes for a 68, including a penalty on the par-5 18th. He birdied a hole-in-one from 65 yards even though he was eight behind.
Smith missed a 12-foot par putt from the rough right of the opening to the back bunker. He three-putted from 40 feet on the second par-3 hole. He is sliding.
Then he started his long run with a 35-foot eagle putt on the par-5 fifth, and he was back in the game soon after.
The ending is special. Smith narrowly missed on the par-5 15th with his second shot so pure that it hit a ridge and rolled to 8 feet to see an eagle. Having trouble on the left tee on the 16th hole with dirt on his ball, he used the slope behind the green for a shot, then rolled back to the hole until birdie at 6 feet .
He hit the 7-iron to 15 feet on the 17th hole for his third straight birdie, then made a hard two-putt from 45 feet for the final birdie.
All this after the bogey started. As for that icy feeling? Smith has gotten the hang of it, even if he loses ground before he starts.
“I’ve been golfing basically my whole life. I figured it out pretty quickly,” Smith said. “Like I said, I figured it out in a couple of holes, and it started to feel comfortable there, especially with the driver. Yeah, and then putt felt good all day.”