Niemann finishes with eagle and shares the lead at Sony Open

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Joaquin Niemann, of Chile, follows through on his shot from the 14th tee box during the first round of the Sony Open golf tournament Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu. (AP Photo/Jamm Aquino)

HONOLULU – Joaquin Niemann had no regrets about the 18th hole at the Sony Open.

Four days after a pair of pars on the final hole at Kapalua led to a playoff loss, Niemann holed a 50-foot chip for eagle on the 18th hole Thursday for an 8-under 62 and a share of the lead with Jason Kokrak and Peter Malnati.

“It was a good way to finish,” Niemann said. “Spent a few days thinking about that last hole, but taking all the positives from the week and pull it out for this week.”

They weren't easy days for Niemann. The 22-year-old from Chile is still too young to have experienced the inevitable losses that pile up in this sport. He played Sunday at Kapalua with Sergio Garcia, who has experienced plenty of failure, and who told him to think about what all went right.

So much did on a breezy afternoon at Waialae on a course with dry fairways and smooth greens and low scoring. Niemann's only bogey was when he fell asleep on a 25-foot birdie putt above the hole at No. 12, ran it 10 feet by the hole and three-putted. The finish was exquisite.

Kokrak played bogey-free, and he was as pleased with a 15-foot par putt on No. 1 — his 10th hole of the round — than any of his nine birdies. He had a 25-foot eagle putt for 61 on his closing hole that narrowly missed.

Malnati was the only one at 62 who played in the morning, though conditions were similar for much of the day.

The group at 64 included Daniel Berger, among the 31 players in the Sentry Tournament of Champion last week on Maui, and Jim Herman, who should have been there.