Thomas returns at Sony Open and scene of scoring recordsJanuary 11, 2018 7:46am

HONOLULU (AP) — The Sony Open is where Justin Thomas broke the PGA Tour's scoring record, starting with his 59.

And it was that round when Jordan Spieth got a taste of his own medicine.

Thomas and Spieth were paired together for the opening round at Waialae Country Club, and no one celebrated more than Spieth when he watched his longtime friend make eagle on his 18th hole for a 59 .

But here's what was so amazing about that round: Spieth actually had better chances.

Spieth was an average of 18 feet, 4 inches on his approach shots, best in the field for the first round. Thomas averaged 25 feet, 7 inches, ranking him seventh. Not only was Spieth closer to him most of the round, at times they were on the same line. On one hole, Spieth had to move his mark for Thomas to putt for birdie (he made), and then Spieth had the same putt from a shorter distance (he missed).

"I was like a stroke-and-half or something better tee-to-green than he was that round, I got beat by like seven shots," Spieth said with a laugh.

It was only six shots (Spieth only shot 65), but it felt like more. And by the end of the week, Thomas broke or tied records at every turn until he had a seven-shot victory and a 253 for the lowest 72-hole score in PGA Tour history.

Thomas finished the season with five victories, his first major, PGA Tour player of the year and the FedEx Cup title. He has talked about the challenge in following up such a season, and that starts with avoiding comparisons.

That will be tough at the Sony Open, especially for the first round Thursday. And it probably didn't help that Thomas, despite closing with three pars and failing to birdie the par-5 18th, shot a 61 in the pro-am on Wednesday (with pins in the middle of greens).

The Sony Open is the first full-field event of the year, and 124 of the 144 players have had nearly two months off.

The European Tour also resumes its season by co-sanctioning the BMW South African Open. The Tour season begins in the Bahamas, and a few LPGA Tour and PGA Tour Champions players get to warm up in an official event in Florida called the Diamond Resorts Invitational. In a Ryder Cup year, Europe gets a dress rehearsal with some players who are taking on Asian players in the EurAsia Cup in Malaysia.


Thomas, Spieth and Daniel Berger — who all graduated from high school in 2011 — were in the same group last year. This year might be even better for Thomas, who begins his title defense Thursday afternoon alongside Jason Dufner and Kevin Kisner. It seems Thomas (Alabama) and Kisner (Georgia) made a bet on the college football title game . The result is that Kisner plans to wear an Alabama jersey on the 17th hole.

Even being in Hawaii, it's not all fun and games.

Former PGA champion Jimmy Walker is cautiously optimistic having trudged through a difficult year in which he finally was diagnosed with Lyme disease.

"I'm a lot better physically," Walker said. "There's a mental and physical part to go along with Lyme disease. I physically feel a lot better. Mentally, I haven't played golf in a while. So, we'll see how all that starts, how all that goes. But I've been working on the game, working on my body. Since September, I've been able to put 10 pounds back on. Feel a lot healthier. It's incredible just what feeling good can do for you and for your confidence, too."

Morgan Hoffmann is playing for the first time since revealing in The Players Tribune that he has muscular dystrophy.

Luke Donald can only hope the start of this year is the better than the end of last year. He felt chest pains in the pro-am of the RSM Classic and checked into a hospital. Tests came back clean and he settled into a holiday season full of rest.

Television: Thursday-Saturday, 7-10:30 p.m. (Golf Channel); Sunday, 6-10 p.m. (Golf Channel).


Ernie Els begins his 30th year at home for the BMW South African Open, a field that includes Retief Goosen, Charl Schwartzel and Trevor Immelman.

The Big Easy finished fourth in his South African Open debut in 1989. The field that year included John Daly, two years before his rookie season on the PGA Tour.

The defending champion is Graeme Storm, who beat Rory McIlroy in a playoff. McIlroy discovered a crack in his ribs a few days later.

Television: Thursday-Friday, 3-5 a.m., 7-10 a.m. (Golf Channel); Saturday-Sunday, 5-9:30 a.m. (Golf Channel).


While the Diamond Resorts Invitational in Orlando, Florida, is unofficial, it marks the start and the end for Gerina Piller . She is pregnant with her first child and plans to take off 2018 and return next year. The baby is due the first week of May.

Piller joins Brooke Henderson, Brittany Lang and Brittany Lincicome. The PGA Tour Champions serves up defending champion Woody Austin, John Daly and Joe Durant among their players. There also is a celebrity component that includes retired pitcher Mark Mulder, tennis player Mardy Fish and Roger Clemens.

Television: Friday-Saturday, 1:30-4:30 p.m. (Golf Channel); Sunday, 1-4 p.m. (Golf Channel).

Page 1 of 1

More Stories Like This

Jon Rahm wins CareerBuilder, jumps to No. 2 in worldGolf Capsules
AFN to broadcast NFL's championship games despite shutdownAmerican Forces Network to broadcast NFL's conference championships despite federal government shutdown
Jon Rahm poses with the trophy after winning the CareerBuilder Challenge golf tournament on the Stadium Course at PGA West, Sunday, Jan. 21, 2018, in La Quinta, Calif. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Jon Rahm outlasts Andrew Landry in CareerBuilder playoff
FILE - In this Sept. 26, 1999 file photo, Atlanta Braves Chipper Jones stands on a table to spray teammates after beating the Montreal Expos 10-0 to clinch the NL East title, in Montreal. All signs point to Jones being selected to the Baseball Hall of Fame when the next group of inductees is announced Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018. (AP Photo/Paul Chiasson, File)
Chipper Jones set to join familiar names in Hall of Fame
Fleetwood retains Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship titleTommy Fleetwood successfully defended his Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship title on Sunday after a sensational back nine to clinch the win
FILE - In this Sept. 25, 2017, file photo, United States bobsledder Elana Meyers Taylor poses for a portrait with her Olympic medals at the 2017 Team USA Media Summit in Park City, Utah. The progression is obvious. Bronze in 2010. Silver in 2014. That would mean Meyers Taylor has one Olympic stone left unturned, and after a very challenging year the U.S. women's bobsledder is starting her final preparations to win the gold that slipped away at the Sochi Games four years ago. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)
Meyers Taylor still remembers the gold that slipped away

Related Searches

Related Searches