Justin Thomas’s epic 59

Journal


Justin Thomas began and ended with eagles to fire a sizzling 11-under 59 and seize the lead after the opening round of the Sony Open in Hawaii on Thursday.

The 23-year-old long-hitter took advantage of ideal scoring conditions at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu as he became the seventh, and youngest, player to break 60 on the PGA Tour.

"It was obviously a fun day," said Thomas, who finished the day with a three-shot lead over fellow American Hudson Swafford, who had nine birdies in an eight-under 62.

Most recently, Jim Furyk carded a record 58 at the Travelers Championship in Connecticut in August.

The American also has a 59 on his Tour resume, as do compatriots Al Geiberger, Chip Beck, David Duval, Paul Goydos, and Australian Stuart Appleby.

Thomas had opened his round with an eagle at the 10th, where he hit his tee shot 315 yards and holed out from 34 yards out in the fairway for a two.

He had eight more birdies and a bogey on the day, and kept his form going with a nine-foot par-saving putt at the par-four eighth.

"That save on eight was huge," Thomas said. "It gave me a chance because I knew if I hit a good drive on nine I was going to have a seven- or eight-iron in."

But his drive at the par-five ninth found the bunker.

"I missed it by six inches of carrying the bunker," added Thomas, who first thought he would have to just hit a wedge out, but with a perfect lie went with a five-iron and got it to the green.

"I got a good read and it just hung on there enough to go in."

Playing partners Jordan Spieth and Daniel Berger looked almost more excited than Thomas when the putt dropped.

Thomas, whose third PGA Tour victory at the Tournament of Champions on Sunday lifted him to a career-high 12th in the world, said the moment felt a little odd.

"It's not like winning the tournament you know," he said. "It's like, hey, unbelievable round - you have three days left still. So I didn't really know how to react."

Spieth, a friend and former junior and college rival of Thomas', opened with a 65 and was happy to have a ringside seat to his buddy's stellar performance.

"I'm just really, really happy for JT right now," said the former world No. 1 and two-time Major champion. "It's history, it's awesome, it's really cool... to be able to watch it."

Thomas reached 22-under 188 to equal the lowest 54-hole total in PGA Tour history.

A victory this morning would give him three wins in his last four starts and make him the first golfer since Ernie Els in 2003 to win the Tournament of Champions and the Sony Open back-to-back.

Jordan Spieth's commendable 7-under-par 63 puts him at second with Justin Rose on the final day, 7 strokes behind Thomas who is poised to take the victory at this time.