November 29, 2018

Round 1 recap: 2018 Hero World Challenge

Reigning Masters champion Patrick Reed and Hero World Challenge rookie Patrick Cantlay share the first-round lead at Albany, Bahamas after each shot a 7-under-par 65, three shots clear of the rest of the elite field that includes four of the five top-ranked golfers in the world and 18 of the world’s top 32.

Cantlay had a clean round of seven birdies and a furious finish, tallying birdies on five of his last six holes. The Southern California native has vowed to donate $500 per birdie made at the Hero World Challenge to the California Strong Group, a charitable fund set up to support those affected in November’s California wildfires as well as those who lost loved ones in the tragic mass shooting on Nov. 7 at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks that claimed the lives of 12 people.

Cantlay only found out his place had been reserved in the Hero World Challenge field two weeks ago, after Webb Simpson withdrew, and had never seen the Albany course until Tuesday. He estimated he played 10 holes in a Tuesday practice session, followed by Wednesday’s Hero World Challenge Pro-Am round.

“I’m glad I’m here,” Cantlay said. “I was looking forward to — I knew I was on the edge for a while, so I was hopeful that I would get in and, fortunately, I did. Still trying to figure out the golf course. So I feel like I know it a little better after today. It’s a fun event, Tiger’s a great host and I’m happy to be here. This field’s obviously small but it’s really, really strong. Anytime you can test your skills against the best in the world, I think it makes you a better golfer.”

Reed, who is making his fifth consecutive start in the Hero World Challenge since his 2014 debut, carded eight birdies against one bogey. He birdied the first two holes and three of his last five holes. Reed tied for third in 2014, was runner-up in 2015 and placed T5 last year.

“I went out there and did what I had to do,” Reed said. “Coming into today, I felt like I was hitting the ball pretty solid. My coach and I, I was able to get him in town this week and kind of fine‑tune some things. To putt the way like I felt I did today, as well as I hit the ball and flight the ball how I wanted to, was very positive.”

Immediately behind the leaders on the Hero World Challenge leaderboard is World No. 3 Dustin Johnson and 2014 and 2016 tournament runner-up Henrik Stenson, each shooting a 4-under 68.

Tournament host and five-time Hero World Challenge champion Woods opened his 2018 tournament with a 1-over 73. Hero World Challenge defending champion Rickie Fowler shot an even-par 72.