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Thomas sets 36-hole record and leads by 5

DOUG FERGUSON, AP Golf Writer br /> HONOLULU (AP) — Justin Thomas finished with another eagle and put himself in the PGA Tour record book again Friday in the Sony Open. One day after his 59 made him only the seventh player in PGA Tour history break 60, Thomas made an 8-foot eagle putt on the 18th hole at Waialae for a 6-under 64 to set the 36-hole scoring record on the PGA Tour. Thomas was at 17-under 123 and had a five-shot lead over Gary Woodland. The previous mark was 124, last matched at the 2015 BMW Championship by Jason Day at Conway Farm. 'It's cool,' Thomas said. 'Just like yesterday, anytime you can get your name in the record book, it's awesome. I had no idea until I finished.' Thomas started slowly, not picking up his first birdie until the fifth hole. Irritation from a three-putt bogey on the eighth hole got him going, and Thomas ran off four straight birdies around the turn. From there, no one got closer than four shots on another ideal day for scoring off the shore just up the road from Waikiki Beach. Woodland made a 10-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole for his second straight 64. Woodland and Thomas as part of the final group could be a real power show — Woodland is regarded as one of the premier power players in golf, though he has been far more reserved off the tee, despite being tempted to hit driver. 'I did that my first couple times here and that didn't work out for me,' he said. 'I'm very comfortable with where my game is. Driver feels great, I just don't get many opportunities out there. I'm not complaining about being in the fairway, either.' Thomas wasn't bashful. He smashed a 355-yard drive down the 12th fairway that set up a flip wedge to 12 feet for his fourth straight birdie. He also took an unusual line on the 14th, hammering a high drive over the trees and bunker down the left side and back into the fairway, leaving him 70 yards to the green on the 430-yard hole. He pitched that up to just under 5 feet and missed the putt, one of the few he failed to convert. Zach Johnson had a 61 and Olympic gold medalist Justin Rose shot 64. They were in the group seven shots behind along with Hudson Swafford, who opened with a 62 but could only manage a 68. Jordan Spieth felt empty after rounds of 65-67, partially because he was nine shots behind and primarily because he had as many chances as Thomas over the last two days. Only one of them has been converting putt after putt. 'Just has a really cold putter this week,' Spieth said. 'I think it added to the frustration on the green, because the game is looking so easy to him. I felt like I was hitting the ball in the same location, I'm just being outdone on the green. That's something a little abnormal to me.' That made Thomas, his best friend in golf for the last 10 years, chuckle. 'Now he knows how a lot of people feel,' Thomas said. Thomas never made it to the North Shore on Thursday after his 59, though he was happy to have missed out on Spieth and Smylie Kaufman's ocean adventure that included a capsized kayak. He approached the next day like any other, trying to hit good shots, get birdie chances and expand his lead. He ticked every box, even picking up a record he knew nothing about. Thomas rolled in a 12-foot birdie from the collar left of the 15th green, only to give the shot back with a tee shot he pulled into the bunker. From the left rough, with the sun in his face, he belted it out and onto the green for another closing eagle. Coming off a three-shot victory last week at Kapalua, he is in prime position to join Ernie Els in 2003 as the only players to sweep Hawaii. 'He's not stopping, as we can see,' Spieth said. 'Someone has to go out and chase him.' Rose was one shot out of the lead when he finished — Thomas had yet to tee off — and was hopeful of staying in range. Rose knows from experience that starting strong and holding it together for four rounds isn't easy. He shot 60 in the first round at Disney in 2006, stretched his lead early in the second round and by the end of the week was five shots behind the winner. 'You definitely need the mindset when you're that far ahead to keep the accelerator down,' Rose said. 'But it's hard to keep that sort of momentum going, for sure.' .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJan 14th, 2017Related News

Fresh off a victory, Justin Thomas joins the 59 club

DOUG FERGUSON, AP Golf Writer   HONOLULU (AP) — Staring over the top of a bunker on his final hole, the prudent play for Justin Thomas might have been to make sure he got out of the sand and avoided a big number. But then, Thomas didn't care about a big number. It was about golf's magic number. 'This isn't a time for me to lay it up,' Thomas said Thursday at the Sony Open. He hit a 5-iron so clean and so high that it carried 207 yards into a light Pacific breeze to 15 feet on the par-5 ninth hole at Waialae Country Club. Thomas poured in the eagle putt for an 11-under 59, becoming the seventh player to post a sub-60 round in PGA Tour history. For a brief moment, he reacted as if it were little more than the perfect finish to a great opening round. He stretched out his putter that was still in his left hand, smiled and punched the air with his right fist. Only when he looked over at Jordan Spieth and Daniel Berger, the two witnesses to a 59 that Thomas made look easy, did the sense of history start to hit him. Berger thrust his arm in the air. Spieth, his best friend in golf since they were 13, crouched as the ball neared the cup and delivered a left-handed fist pump as both raced over to congratulate him. 'I think I got more excited from seeing them get excited than I did my putt going in,' Thomas said. 'I thought about it going up to the green. I'm like, 'If I make it, what am I going to do?' It's not like winning a tournament. You have three days left to try to play well. So I didn't really know how to react. I never had a putt on the last hole on a Thursday mean that much.' It was different from the feeling he had four days ago when he won the SBS Tournament of Champions at Kapalua. That was his third victory on the PGA Tour, and the 23-year-old Thomas is sure to win more. 'I don't have many chances to shoot 59,' he said. Jim Furyk was the last player with a sub-60 round when he closed with a record 58 at the Travelers Championship last summer. Furyk also had a 59 in 2013 at the BMW Championship, joining the exclusive group that includes Al Geiberger (1977 Memphis Classic), Chip Beck (1991 Las Vegas Invitational), David Duval (1999 Bob Hope Classic), Paul Goydos (2010 John Deere Classic) and Stuart Appleby (2010 Greenbrier Classic). This was special because he made it look so easy. He began by pitching in for eagle from 35 yards. Thomas never hit more than a 7-iron into the par 4s at Waialae on a perfect day for scoring — very little breeze, fast fairways and soft greens. That 7-iron was chipped under the trees and into a bunker on No. 8 when he was trying to save par. His only bogey came on his second hole, the par-3 11th, when his tee shot went into a bunker and he missed an 18-foot par putt. Duval was the only other player to shoot 59 with an eagle on the last hole. Furyk at Conway Farms is the only other player to shoot 59 with a bogey. Spieth was more nervous than Thomas and far more demonstrative. Thomas had a 30-foot birdie putt on No. 7 that looked good even when it was inches from the cup until burning the edge. Spieth clutched the back of his neck and was still asking how the putt didn't fall when he walked onto the next tee. He was talking to himself, of course. He gave Thomas his space. 'It's like sitting on the bench with a teammate throwing a perfect game,' Spieth said. 'It was awesome. What an awesome last five rounds he's had.' Thomas first thought about a 59 when he found an extra long tee at the par-5 18th and figured that was an omen for him to tee it high and hammer a high draw, which left him only an 8-iron into the green. He narrowly missed his eagle putt and settled for a 29. The way he was playing, he expected to go lower, and he did. 'When I was on 18, I thought about 59. I don't know if that's a good or a bad thing, but I just knew that I was driving it well,' he said. 'And if you drive it well out there, you can make a lot of birdies.' He followed with three birdies in four holes, and two years at Alabama was enough for him to start doing the math. 'He had full control of his golf swing,' Spieth said. Spieth and Berger were along for the ride. They all graduated high school in 2011 and grew up in junior golf. They were together a few weekends ago at a resort in Maui ahead of the Tournament of Champions. And they put on quite a show, with Spieth and Berger each shooting 65. On only three holes — No. 15, 5 and 8 — did someone in the group not make birdie or better. Their best-ball score was 17 under. Thomas started to think a 59 wasn't in the works when he was fooled on a 10-foot birdie chance on No. 5 and the putt on No. 7 somehow stayed out. He kept his hopes alive with a 10-foot par save on No. 8, knowing he could get home in two on the par-5 ninth hole. And then he hit into a bunker. 'I saw some sand flying and I was ready to punch something,' Thomas said. 'I was pretty upset about that, because I felt like all chances right there gone.' But then he saw Berger hit out of the bunker with a 4-iron, and Thomas took 5-iron and 'absolutely flushed it.' One putt later, he posted the eighth sub-60 score in history, and became the youngest to shoot 59. Thomas planned to go to the North Shore in the afternoon. Even watching from the beach, he can appreciate the feeling of catching a big wave. He's on one right now. .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJan 13th, 2017Related News

'Trump Whisperer' Conway named White House counselor

'Trump Whisperer' Conway named White House counselor.....»»

Source: Rappler RapplerCategory: NewsDec 23rd, 2016Related News