Leaders Go Low at First Round of Mitsubishi Electric
Birdies abounded at Hualalai during Thursday’s first round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, despite windy conditions earlier in the day.
The low score of the round belonged to Retief Goosen, who posted a bogey-free trip through the links complemented by 10 birdies. The South African native posted a 10-under-par 62 to claim the top spot on the leaderboard heading into Friday.
“You shoot 10 under, you make everything, and that’s what happened today,” Goosen explained. “I’m seeing the lines very well on the greens at the moment and the putter’s working.”
His work on the greens, Goosen added, actually masked what he feels has been a nagging deficiency in another crucial area of his game.
“The golf swing itself is a little raw. I must say, I’m not striking it that good off the tee especially, but the fairways are wide here so you can get away with some bad drives,” he said. “I hit a lot of good iron shots in close.”
Goosen’s blistering round of birdies didn’t create the separation from the rest of the field that a score like 62 will often afford the player hot enough to hit it.
Darren Clarke, one of the longest drivers on the Champions Tour, is in the clubhouse alone in second place after reaching every green in regulation and posting a 9-under 63.
Scott Parel and Jerry Kelly are also well within striking distance, tied for third on the leaderboard with respective rounds of 8-under par. Everyone else in the field is at least four shots back of Goosen following the first 18 holes of the 54-hole championship.
Parel said that despite conquering the course the way he did throughout the day, he didn’t expect to hold the lead by the time the last group finished their rounds. And he was right.
“There’s no way 8-under will be leading when this day’s over looking at what these guys are doing, so you just know you have to make birdies,” Parel said.
Winning this weekend, he added, is likely going to take another couple rounds within range of the 64 he was able to produce during his opening campaign at Hualalai.
“I mean, I would be surprised if — we’ve probably got to get in the 20s under par, close to it I would guess, unless we get a bunch of wind,” Parel posited.
Only nine of the 42 players in the field shot over-par in the first round, while 29 finished the day in red numbers.
With the course as gettable as it played through the first 18 holes, much of the field remains in contention. The tournament now looks forward to moving day Friday, when players will jostle for position and the upper hand before the final and deciding round over the weekend.