Valero Texas Open 2019: Si Woo Kim Leads at 6 Under After Opening Round

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistApril 4, 2019

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS - APRIL 04: Si Woo Kim of South Korea watches his tee shot on the 11th hole during the first round of the 2019 Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio Oaks Course on April 04, 2019 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Si Woo Kim sits atop the leaderboard through the first round of the Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio.

Kim shot six under to build a one-shot lead. J.T. Poston, Abraham Ancer, Brian Stuard and Jhonattan Vegas are all tied for second at five under. Nine golfers, including Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, are tied for sixth at four under.

Kim opened on the back nine. After four straight pars, he birdied No. 14. Following a bogey on No. 16, he made the turn with back-to-back birdies to move to two under. 

The 23-year-old took an immediate step backward on the front nine, bogeying the par-four first hole. Then he reeled off five birdies over the next six holes.

"You never know with him," Bobby Brown, Kim's caddy, said of his performance, per Adam Schupak of PGATour.com. "When he's on, he makes the game look so easy. ... It was one of those days where I just stayed out of his way because he was feeling it."

According to PGATour.com, Kim reached 13 greens in regulation and gained 3.764 strokes on the green, the latter of which was third-best of the round.

Because he teed off in the sixth group of the day, Kim spent a lot of time in the clubhouse waiting to see whether his score would hold up.

Stuard looked poised to at least grab a share of the lead. He was four under through his first nine holes and then birdied No. 1. Eight straight pars left him stuck at five under, though.

The story was largely the same for Vegas. A run of four consecutive birdies on the back nine put him at five under. That run included this excellent tee shot on the par-three 13th hole:

Late surges by Poston and Ancer helped them move up. They both recorded three birdies over their final five holes. Ancer was roughly a foot away from climbing into a tie with Kim. His second-shot approach from the intermediate rough on No. 17 rolled to within 14 inches of the cup.

Fowler began his round roughly 20 minutes before Kim and set the pace early on. Teeing off at No. 10, he was already at three under through five holes.

Fowler's momentum stalled a bit until a birdie on No. 2. With a birdie on the sixth hole, the 2018 Masters runner-up was sitting at six under until a bogey on No. 8 knocked him back to five under.

Spieth has suffered through a dreadful 2019 season. He hasn't finished higher than 35th in any of his previous eight stroke-play events and missed the cut three times, most recently at The Players Championship. Perhaps the three-time major winner can find the consistency that has eluded him following an encouraging start in San Antonio.

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