The first full-field event of the PGA Tour season opened with some strange stuff Thursday at Waialae.
First, defending champion Justin Thomas will have to really go low in the final three rounds if he wants to come anywhere close to what he did last year.
Thomas, with Bones MacKay taking over the caddie duties, opened with 67 — eight shots higher than the dazzling 59 he put up on opening day last year. He’d go on to shoot 27-under, set a tour record and take two straight wins in Hawaii. That won’t be the case this year.
While the No. 3 player went three-under, the world’s No. 2 had a disaster on his way to what looked like it would be a 65. Jordan Spieth was four-under for his round through 16 holes. He started on the back and the 450-yard par four eighth was his 16th hole of the day. It was nothing but misery for Spieth. A bad drive put him in terrible shape and it was a lot hacking going on — six shots worth to reach the green. Two putts later he walked off the green with a quadruple-bogey eight. He bounced back with a birdie at the ninth to finish under par but saw a chance for a good round go awry at the eighth.
Still, Spieth was only six shots behind the co-leaders and of course there were surprises at the top. Zach Johnson came back sharp from a long layoff to shoot 63 in the afternoon to tie with Chris Kirk, who shot his 63 in the morning.
Brian Harman, who fought and lost against Dustin Johnson at the Tournament Of Champions, kept up his hot play, shot 64 and was one of nine players in at six-under par.
Playing conditions were perfect and 77 players managed to shoot under par at birdie-friendly Waialae.