SAN FRANCISCO • South Korean Bae Sang Moon said he "felt like a rookie" after shooting a one-over 73 at the Safeway Open on his return to the PGA Tour after a two-year absence for military service.
He birdied the par-four first hole but bogeyed four straight holes from No. 3 at the Silverado Resort and Spa in Napa, California, as the new season got under way with the first of 49 official money events on the calendar on Thursday.
Bae, who has a career-high ranking of No. 26, picked up a shot on the par-four 12th to lie tied-87th.
A winner at Silverado in 2014, Bae hit seven of 14 fairways and 14 of 18 greens in the first round.
"I missed being on a golf course so much and couldn't wait to be back on it," said the 31-year-old, who has not played on the Tour since the 2015 Presidents Cup in his home country.
"I was so happy on the course, but the score wasn't great. I lost the feel, kind of competition feel. I think I shot five under yesterday on pro-am day.
"The most important key is playing the tournament, just playing. Not a practice round, just a real tournament round."
While he struggled, Brendan Steele began his title defence by grabbing a share of the lead with a 65. He won the title last year by one stroke and his return was spurred by an eagle at the par-five fifth hole in a round where he made just one bogey.
"A little bit of everything worked for me today," said the American, who did not miss a single green in regulation. I had a really good ball-striking day. And then I had a good putting day as well."
Compatriots Tom Hoge and Tyler Duncan also shot 65s to create a three-way tie at the top of the leaderboard.
Day 3: StarHub Ch204, tomorrow, 5.30am