Chris Kirk and Zach Johnson shot 7-under rounds of 63 on Thursday to share the lead after the first round of the Sony Open at the Waialea Country Club in Honolulu.
Brian Harman was among a group of four players a shot off the lead at 6-under, along with Talor Gooch, Kyle Stanley and Vaughn Taylor.
Harman carded eight birdies and a pair of bogies during his opening round.
“Drove it well, just out of position a couple of times,” Harman said. “Made some putts, and I think I only missed two or three greens, so that helps.”
Defending champion Justin Thomas is four shots off the lead after recording three birdies and no bogeys in a 3-under round of 67. That was eight shots off the 59 he shot in the first round at the event last year. Thomas hit 12 of 18 greens in regulation while needing 27 putts to get through the first round, compared to 23 on Thursday last year.
He is tied with Patton Kizzire, who is starting of his calendar year with both legs of the Hawaii swing after playing at the Tournament of Champions on Maui last week.
“It’s come pretty far,” Kizzire told the Golf Channel about how far his game has come since graduating off the Web.com tour in 2016. “Just the experience is irreplaceable, that’s what I fall back on. Keep gaining great experience … it feels good.”
Jordan Spieth, the top-ranked player in the field at No. 2 in the world, endured a much more adventurous opening round than his buddy Thomas. Spieth carded four birdies on each side, but also had three bogies and a quadruple-bogey eight on the par-four eighth hole after driving it out of bounds. He is in a tie for 62nd at 1-under.
J.J. Henry, celebrating his 500th career start on the PGA Tour this week, carded a 3-over 73 and sits in a tie for 130th. Jimmy Walker, making his season debut following a difficult 2017 in which he was diagnosed with Lyme disease, shot a 4-over 74 and is in a tie for 136th.
Kirk went out in the early wave and posted the first 63 of the day. He made the turn in 2-under, then birdied five holes in posting a 30 on the back nine.
Not to be out-done was Johnson. The Iowa native birdied his first three holes en route to making the turn in 4-under 31, then poured in three more birdies on the back nine to post a bogey-free round for the 94th time in his PGA Tour career.
“I had zero expectations on my game,” said Johnson, who added that he came to Hawaii four to five days late after battling the flu. “That being said, sometimes it’s nice. You just go out there, find a rhythm and just stick with it.”
–Field Level Media