HONOLULU — Lead Chris Kirk may be the only sliver of normalcy at the Sony Open.
Jordan Spieth started Friday with a share of the lead. He left the 18th green at Whyalla with a slight concussion after missing the cut.
In the year “I felt like I had a really bad card today,” said Spieth, the first player since Matt Ealy at Bay Hill in 2020, to get ahead of his 18-hole start. “It was a strange, strange day.”
After opening with a 64, he had a 5-over 75.
Rory Sabatini birdied the 18th hole early in the morning and headed to the front nine. Hit the tee shot out of bounds. Double bogey. He pulled his driver into the water on No. 2. Double bogey. He pulled his second ball into the same water on par 3 and got the same score. He shot 41 for 74 on the final nine and missed the cut by 1.
JJ Spahn had a happier time until the end, when one bad swing sent his tee shot into the ditch on the par-5 ninth, leading to a bogey on Whyalla’s easiest hole. He still shot 64 and 1 shot.
But imagine teeing off at a PGA Tour event in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and seeing your high school principal. Rita Kier, who retired from San Dimas High School, was on vacation with her husband.
“I saw her on the first tee and I was like, ‘Oh my God, is that Mrs. Kier?’ It was definitely enough,” Spahn said. “Small world.”
It’s a strange world Friday, at least off the coast of wild, wacky wacky.
Kirk dropped just one shot in a round of 5-under 65, 11-under 129 behind Spann and Taylor Montgomery, a PGA Tour rookie playing his eighth tournament of the season and just one. He finished out of 15.
He’s polite to a fault, so it was hard to imagine (it didn’t end well for Montgomery) hearing Montgomery talk about his teenage years in Las Vegas and the time he lined up at Shadow Creek and talked trash about Michael Jordan. . Then again, Friday at Whyalla was par for the course.
Kirk was one of the feel-good stories from the Sony Open two years ago. He stayed away from golf to seek help for alcoholism and depression. He got a medical extension, and the Sony Open was his last chance to catch the full card. He did that by scoring a 65 to pass for second.
At the start of the second lap, Kirkos was among those in line for the lead. Besides birdieing the first three holes and a bogey on No. 6, he didn’t have much to worry about. But you can appreciate the difficulty of trying to keep in good shape from one day to the next.
“It’s very hard to be mentally strong as a professional in this game,” he said. “I don’t know if I did a good job today or not, but thankfully I did on the back nine. I always remind myself that when I start to feel a little nervous, pressure is a privilege.”
Spy wasn’t sure how to feel. He was even for the day, in the mix, going from the mud to the funny lie in the porch. Next up was the par-5 ninth, the easiest birdie on the course until the ball went straight into the fairway.
He took a left foot drop to the red danger line on the cart path. He would have brought a tree into the game to get more relief, but his left leg slipped and the ball didn’t go the way he wanted. It was messy, and he had to make a 10-foot putt for bogey.
He felt that way all day.
“I’ve never led a race and never missed a race,” Spieth said. “I just got the ball in the wrong places.”
The sentencing won’t be made official until Saturday morning as darkness once again prevented everyone from finishing. But it will be 2-under 138. Davis Thompson was 2 under and faced an eagle putt from 60 feet. As long as he doesn’t four-putt, he’ll be there for the weekend. The way Friday went, waiting was probably a good idea.