Zozo Championship: Sebastian Munoz holes out for eagle twice, shoots 64, says, ‘It’s just one of those days’

Adam Schupak
·4 min read

Don’t ask Sebastian Munoz to explain what got into him on Thursday at Sherwood Country Club near Los Angeles. The 27-year-old Colombian holed out twice for eagle, poured in eight birdies and overcame a double bogey as well as two bogeys on the front nine. But explain why the Golf Gods seemed to be in his corner during a round of 8-under 64 to grab the first-round lead at the ZOZO Championship? No, sir.

“I just get out of the way,” he said. “At first I was like what should I do, should I be more calm, should I attack more? I just stopped trying to play anything and just keep playing golf. It’s just one of those days; it happens.”

Funny enough, Munoz’s round started inauspiciously with a bogey, but he quickly righted the ship by canning a 20-foot birdie putt at No. 2, the first of three consecutive birdies. A par at the fifth ended his birdie streak but he began a new one by draining a 36-footer at 6. Then Munoz didn’t even bother to use his putter at No. 7, holing out for eagle at from 168 yards.

“I just focused on making the best swing I could and I started four yards left, started cutting nicely towards the pin, and once you see the guys throw (his arms up and make) the touchdown sign, it’s good,” he said.

Indeed, it was. Munoz gave a shot back at No. 8, but made birdie on three of his first four holes on the back nine to claim the lead. Just when it looked like Munoz might post a real low one, he gave two strokes back with a double at 14. Never fear because Munoz got them back and did so in dramatic fashion. His second shot at the par-5 16th hole caught a lucky break and he made the most of it, holing out for eagle from 51 yards.

“We thought it was maybe going to be wet, but happily it was short of the water,” said Munoz, who tacked on one final birdie at 17. “Then 50-yarder and my caddie was like, ‘Be aggressive, you already took a risk on shot No. 2, so might as well just keep going.’ So I was like, ‘All right, sure.’ So, I throw it up there and find the hole. So, it was pretty sweet.”

Pretty sweet, indeed, but still no answer for being dialed in on Thursday: “I don’t know, it kept happening. The guys cheered for me and I was like, let’s go.”

Munoz, who won the 2019 Sanderson Farms Championship, has played solid if unspectacularly during his first four starts of the 2020-21 season and is coming off his best finish, a T-9 at the CJ Cup. He’ll make his Masters debut next month. His 64 was good enough for a one-stroke lead over Englishman Tyrrell Hatton and American Justin Thomas.

Hatton registered his third round of 65 in his last five rounds. He had a share of the lead until his 7-wood tee shot at the par-5 16th found a fairway bunker and he couldn’t scramble for par. Hatton won the European Tour’s BMW PGA Championship two weeks ago and overcame jet lag last week to finish third at the CJ Cup.

“Confidence is pretty high at the moment,” Hatton said. “I guess everyone kind of goes through phases, don’t they? It works both ways. You have bad runs and you have good runs. I guess you just have to try and take advantage of the runs when you feel pretty good. So far, so good for me. Hoping that I can kind of play well the next three days and finish off what would be a really good three weeks of golf.”

Thomas started slowly but came charging home in 29 with five birdies and an eagle.

“I just had one brain fart on the front,” he said of a 3-putt bogey at No. 7, but he had no issues with making a 10-foot eagle putt at 16.

Three Georgia Bulldogs – Brian Harman, Harris English and Kevin Kisner – were among a group of five golfers another shot back after shooting 66. Harman reeled off five birdies in a row beginning at No. 2 (his 11th hole of the day) as Sherwood CC was there for taking.

Tiger Woods wasn’t able to take advantage. He suffered from a case of the rights, making bogey or worse on three par-5s to shoot 4-over 76 and beat just two golfers in the 78-man field (Gary Woodland withdrew with a back injury).