(Reuters) – American Kevin Tway overcame a sinus infection and an aching ear to shoot a bogey-free round of 66 and take a one stroke lead at the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Maui on Thursday.
Defending champion Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas and Gary Woodland were tied for second place after rounds of 67 on a sunny and windy day at the scenic island course in Hawaii.
Tway, 30, walked gingerly around the Kapalua Plantation and at times looked like he might not complete the round.
But it did not show on his scorecard as he sank seven birdies to take an early lead at the first PGA Tour event of the year.
“I was just trying to drink water, eat some food and stay upright,” he told the Golf Channel. “But the golf was good. I drove it well, kept the ball in play, hit a lot of greens and made some good putts.
“Everything was kind of going the right way.”
The Safeway Open champion said he was eager to get off the course and into bed.
“I’m feeling a little dizzy and tired. Definitely going to get horizontal, probably take some more medicine and sleep a lot, which I’m good at,” he said with a smile.
World number three Johnson displayed his mastery of the course he knows well, mixing seven birdies with a bogey to kick off his campaign for his third title at the tournament.
The 34-year-old American has never had an over-par round in nine starts at Kapalua.
Bryson DeChambeau took ample advantage of the new rule that allows players to putt with the flagstick in and birdied three of his final five holes to finish at four-under par and in a six-way tie for sixth.
The rust from an extended break for world number one Brooks Koepka showed as the PGA Tour Player of the Year was limited to a round of three-over-par 76 and tied for 30th.
The 34-man field in Hawaii is restricted to 2018 winners on the PGA Tour.
Three players — Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Justin Rose — qualified but are not playing.
Reporting by Rory Carroll; Editing by Greg Stutchbury