Rory McIlroy and Tom Kim start fast at CJ Cup on PGA Tour

Rory McIlroy and Tom Kim shared a joke ahead of the CJ Cup on Wednesday but took care of the serious business on Thursday by carding a 66 each at Congaree.

Rory McIlroy and Tom Kim start fast at CJ Cup on PGA Tour
Rory McIlroy and Tom Kim start fast at CJ Cup on PGA Tour

Defending champion Rory McIlroy and two-time PGA Tour winner Tom Kim have made extremely strong starts to the CJ Cup at Congaree Golf Club.

McIlroy overcame Collin Morikawa and Rickie Fowler in Nevada last year to claim this trophy and despite the event relocating to South Carolina, it's been a similar story for the four-time major champion so far who carded five birdies and no bogeys on Thursday.

The Northern Irishman is making his first appearance on Tour in the revamped 2023 schedule which he helped to devise with Tiger Woods, after appearances at the BMW PGA Championship, the DS Automobiles Italian Open and the Alfred Dunhill on the DP World Tour.

McIlroy's 66 was his ninth score below 70 in his last 10 rounds on Tour and he could become World No.1 with a win if the current World No.1 Scottie Scheffler finishes worse than tied second.

As for Kim, he continued his pursuit of breaking even more records on Tour with a 66 of his own. The South Korean made one more birdie than McIlroy, but one more bogey too.

The pair currently sits one shot behind co-leaders Gary Woodland and Trey Mullinax who both opened their weeks with 65s. Aaron Wise and Wyndham Clark are also in the clubhouse with 66s.

Kim became the youngest two-time winner on the Tour since 1932 after winning the Shriners Children's Open and he also became the first player to win twice on Tour before the age of 21 since Tiger Woods.

On Wednesday, the 20-year-old gatecrashed McIlroy's press conference to ask a question about his early years. The duo embraced afterwards.

"Something you can't copy, I think. It was really hard to just kind of play my own game sometimes. Seeing the lines he took and it was like 380 to the runout and he was saying, "Sit." I was like, really? Like, sit?" Kim said about playing with McIlroy on Thursday.

"It was like 380, but he almost made it. Things like that. Obviously what was the most important thing for me today was trying to play my own game and not look at his line, but it was still so much fun."

Viktor Hovland started his 2023 campaign well with a tied fifth finish at the ZOZO Championship and he shot a 67 in today's first round. The Norwegian won his third Tour title at the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba last season.

"I felt like I hit the ball really well for the most part. Only thing is that I feel like I'm in control of my golf ball, but when I miss it, it's been kind of a little bit all over the place," Hovland said.

"It's a little up-and-down round, especially on the back nine, but I managed to make a couple of good saves and made a lot of putts today."



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