SIPA USA/PA Images Thomas: eight birdies to share the lead.
Justin Time
Thomas shares early lead at Tournament of Champions in Hawaii
Thomas and Harris English shot eight-under par on the opening day in Maui.

DEFENDING CHAMPION JUSTIN Thomas racked up eight birdies in an eight-under par 65 on Thursday to share the first-round lead with Harris English in the US PGA Tour Tournament of Champions.

Thomas’s five birdies on the front nine included three in a row at the seventh, eighth and ninth. He kept the round going with a spectacular par save at the 13th, where he hit into tall native grass, had to hunt for his ball and hit out to the fairway but drained a 37-foot putt.

He followed with birdies at 14 and 15 and birdied the last to join English in the clubhouse at eight-under, two strokes in front of a group of six players on 67 that included former Masters champions Sergio Garcia of Spain and Patrick Reed.

“It was a good day,” Thomas said. “It was a good opening round. It was solid. I didn’t do anything great, didn’t do anything bad, just kind of made my way around the course.”

He said the conditions, with less wind than expected on the par-73 Plantation course at Kapalua on the Hawaiian island of Maui, were “about as good as you could get them”.

“Not much wind and soft greens, so I was glad to take advantage,” Thomas said.

Reed and Garcia are joined on six-under by South Korea’s Im Sung-jae, Canadian Nick Taylor and Americans Robert Streb and Ryan Palmer.

It was a further stroke back to Aussie Adam Scott and Americans Patrick Cantlay and Brendon Todd.

World number one Dustin Johnson, teeing it up for the first time since capturing his second major title at the pandemic-delayed Masters in November, had three birdies and a bogey in a two-under par 71.

© – AFP, 2021

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