HONOLULU — Carl Yuan soaked up the views on the Sony Open, not simply his title atop the leaderboard when he completed his second spherical Friday however merely being in Hawaii to start out his PGA Tour season.
If not for Jon Rahm, the 26-year-old Yuan would not be right here.
Yuan completed at No. 126 within the FedEx Cup in November by one level and was on the brink of earn his card again by Q-school. After which Rahm bolted for the Saudi riches of LIV Golf. The tour suspended Rahm and eliminated him from the FedEx Cup standings.
Yuan moved up one spot to No. 125, had his full card and received into the Sony Open. After which he posted a 5-under 65 on Friday, ending with a two-putt birdie on the par-5 closing gap at Waialae, for a three-way share of the lead.
“I used to be very thrilled,” Yuan mentioned. “It provides me one other probability to enhance and get higher.”
The large drama as darkness fell was the lower. Joel Dahmen had a 5-foot birdie putt on his last gap that may have moved the lower to 3-under 137. He missed, letting 17 gamers into the weekend, a bunch that features Hideki Matsuyama, who birdied his final two holes.
Amongst these lacking the lower was Gary Woodland, enjoying for the primary time after his Sept. 18 mind surgical procedure to take away a benign tumor that was inflicting anxiousness and concern of dying.
Woodland’s voice choked throughout his Golf Channel interview when he talked concerning the assist he had whereas making an attempt to beat such a daunting interval.
“There was a time the place I did not know if this was going to be doable,” mentioned Woodland, who shot a second straight 71 on Friday. “It was week for me from a psychological standpoint. I wanted to be mentally sharp to get the place I need to be on this planet. It is coming again.”
Stewart Cink, the 50-year-old whose two-week Hawaii swing contains the PGA Tour Champions opener subsequent week on the Huge Island, had a 65 and was amongst 9 gamers who have been 1 shot behind going into what figures to be a busy weekend.
That features Chris Kirk, who gained final week at Kapalua. He shot one other 66 in his bid to grow to be solely the third participant to brush the 2 Hawaii occasions.
Yuan’s rookie yr was a battle, however the Chinese language participant no less than saved himself within the fall. He completed the common season at No. 151 however did sufficient over the ultimate three months to offer himself an opportunity. However he was bumped out by Ryan Moore within the last occasion.
He performed a observe spherical on the TPC Sawgrass to prepare for Q-school — “My spouse was going to caddie for me and it was raining,” he mentioned — after which later that evening received phrase that Rahm was suspended and he was in.
Yuan wasn’t overly involved as a result of he would have had restricted standing. Because it seems, even a few of the rookies with full playing cards did not get into the Sony Open.
“Earlier than I discovered the information, I used to be actually making an attempt to get myself prepared and are available out and play good in Hawaii and on the West Coast and attempt to earn myself again on tour,” Yuan mentioned. “Fortunately I received full standing, however I am nonetheless making an attempt to do the identical factor and are available out right here and play one of the best I can.”
Cink turned 50 final yr and commenced to separate time on the 2 excursions. He figures he’ll play about two dozen occasions this yr, a mix of each. He isn’t within the $20 million signature occasions and would possibly play on the PGA Tour Champions when that’s the best choice.
“I am not going to choose one and follow it,” he mentioned. “I am not making the FedEx Cup or the Schwab Cup my high precedence to attempt to seize a kind of cups. I simply need to play good golf, and I do not care the place it’s. Simply play one of the best I can play and get as a lot out of myself as I can. If meaning enjoying half right here and half on the Champions Tour, I am OK with that.”
An completed fourth at The Sentry final week on Maui — a signature occasion that paid him $975,000 — and stored up his type. He had been fearful about his four-month break from competitors, however he has just one bogey over 36 holes.