Sebastián Muñoz takes first-round lead at Zozo Championship

Sam Farmer
·4 min read
Sebastian Munoz hits from the 18th fairway during the first round of the Zozo Championship golf tournament Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Sebastian Munoz hits from the 18th fairway during the first round of the Zozo Championship golf tournament on Thursday in Thousand Oaks. (Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

So much for first impressions.

Sebastián Muñoz had a wobbly start to the Zozo Championship on Thursday at Sherwood Country Club, three-putting his way to a bogey on the first hole.

The Colombian quickly regained his balance on the cool, overcast afternoon, however, with four birdies and an eagle on the next six holes, working his way to the top of the leaderboard with an eight-under-par 64.

“At first I was like, `What should I do? Should I be more calm? Should I attack more?’” said Muñoz, 27, whose lone victory on the PGA Tour came at the Sanderson Farms Championship in 2019. “I just stopped trying to play anything and just keep playing golf. It’s just one of those days it happens.”

Like the hilly course itself, his round had swooping undulations. Muñoz had a couple of eagles, holing out from 168 and 51 yards, and a double-bogey on 14 where he needed four shots to get inside of 100 yards.

Twelve shots off the lead is Tiger Woods, the tournament’s defending champion, who scuffled through his round with four bogeys and a double.

Tiger Woods hits from the 10th fairway during the first round of the Zozo Championship.
Tiger Woods hits from the 10th fairway during the first round of the Zozo Championship on Thursday in Thousand Oaks. (Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

Woods was four over on the three par-five holes. Before Thursday, he had never finished worse than three over for the day on par-fives in a Tour event.

Rory McIlroy got off to a strong start by shooting a 33 on the front, but he fell apart on the back with a 40 that included three bogeys, two doubles, and three birdies.

Gary Woodland, the 2019 U.S. Open champion, withdrew from the tournament with a back injury on the eighth tee after being three under.

Collin Morikawa of La Cañada Flintridge, who won the PGA Championship in August, shot a 71. Matthew Wolff, who attended Westlake High, shot a 69.

England’s Tyrrell Hatton, who has been on a hot streak lately, birdied 15 to get to eight under for a share of the lead, but gave a stroke back with a bogey on 16. He’s tied for second with Justin Thomas, a shot behind Muñoz.

Thomas, ranked third in the world, finished the opening round eagle-birdie-birdie.

On the European Tour two weeks ago, Hatton won the BMW PGA Championship by four strokes. He was the first-round leader at the CJ Cup last week in Las Vegas, and shot 65-68 the first two days. He stumbled a bit with a 73 on Saturday, but came back with another 65 on Sunday to tie for third.

After the first round at Sherwood, five players are tied for fourth at six under.

Justin Rose started on No. 10 and birdied six of his first seven holes. But he came back to earth, starting with a double-bogey on 18, then shot a more mortal 35 on the front nine for a 65

“It’s been a while since I’ve been disappointed walking off with five-under, so that’s good,” he said. “I guess it’s a good sign.”

Jordan Spieth had a memorable day, but not because he finished two under. His father, Shawn, caddied for him, as his regular caddie, Michael Greller, is taking a break after the death of his own father.

Spieth, a three-time major championship winner, has gone 11 tournaments without a top-10 finish. Thursday, he got some unsolicited tips from his dad.

“It was funny,” the younger Spieth said. “He did the old 'no-no’ on like our fourth hole today, on 13. I'm stepping into the ball and he goes, 'Just don't overdo it.’ I step back, step back in. I'm like, `Dad, there's only really like one or two things you just can't do and that's just don't say not to hit it somewhere while I'm stepping into the shot.’

“He goes, `Well, you know, you did it on No. 11, so I didn't want you to do it on 13.’”

This was the second time Shawn Spieth caddied for his son. The first was in 2019 at Chapultepec Golf Club in Mexico City, where the elevation is 7,600 feet.

Conceded Jordan: “I’m not exactly picking the easiest ones.”

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.