Kirk takes Kapalua lead with final birdie

THE views off the west coast of Maui give the PGA Tour’s season opener at Kapalua a relaxing vibe. Inside the ropes, The Sentry is a lot more hectic.

Chris Kirk ran off three straight birdies on the back nine just to keep pace with 21-year-old Akshay Bhatia. Xander Schauffele had eight birdies in 11 holes to stay in the mix. Jordan Spieth, who hit the first foul ball of the year Thursday for double bogey, is now bogey-free in his last 51 holes and has made enough birdies for a chance.

Kirk gave himself a little separation Sunday (PH time) with a two-putt birdie on the par-5 closing hole at the Plantation course for a 7-under 66.

He leads by one shot over Bhatia (66), with a host of others — past Kapalua champions, major champions and newcomers alike — right behind.

Scottie Scheffler, the world’s No. 1 play, didn’t see many putts go in and took a step back with a 71 that feels a lot higher in this tournament. He still was only three behind.

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