Thomas cards 65 to share lead at Tournament of Champions

By Sports Desk January 07, 2021

Justin Thomas carded an eight-under 65 to share the lead after the opening round of the Tournament of Champions on Thursday.

Two-time champion Thomas produced a bogey-free first round that included eight birdies in Kapalua, Hawaii.

The world number three, winner of the event in 2017 and 2020, made five birdies on the front nine and three on his final five holes.

Thomas shares a two-stroke lead with Harris English in the first PGA Tour event of the year.

The highlight of English's round was an eagle at the ninth hole, where he chipped in from just off the green.

On what is a congested leaderboard, six players are tied for third at six under.

Sergio Garcia, Robert Streb, Nick Taylor, Ryan Palmer, Im Sung-jae and Patrick Reed all opened with 67s.

Garcia won the tournament in 2002, while Reed was victorious in 2015 and has two runner-up finishes since – including last year.

Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay and Brendon Todd carded five-under 68s.

World number one Dustin Johnson is back in a tie for 30th after opening with a 71, while Jon Rahm carded a 70.

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    "It's tough, you know, to finish like that," he said. "A really good week, but I didn't play really well today.

    "I just needed to do a couple more birdies, and hit it a little bit better to win.

    "I'm just happy with how the week turned out – on Monday I just wanted to make the cut, and on Sunday I wanted to win. I'll take this and learn for the future."

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    "I was okay – it was weird," he said. 

    "[The drive] wasn't a good stroke, but I just wasn't thinking about the water. I thought it was weird that it went in [the water]. 

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    "It was a bizarre day," he said. "I have definitely crossed one off the list – I have never won a tournament shanking a ball on Sunday, so that was the first, and I would really like it to be the last.

    "Bones [caddie Jim 'Bones' Mackay] did an unbelievable job of just keeping me in the moment and I just tried to play the golf course for what it is.

    "This place is so tough. It was funny – I was asked earlier in the week about what lead is safe and I said 'no lead' because this place is so tough. But if you hit the fairways you can make birdies, and I stayed so patient. 

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    Later when speaking to Sky Sports, Thomas reflected on just how difficult it is to win a major after some questioned if he would finish his career with just the one, and admitted he did not check the leaderboard all day.

    "It is very, very special," he said. "Anytime you win is obviously great, but getting it done different ways teaches you a lot. 

    "This golf course is tough. Winning tournaments is tough. Winning a major is tough.

    "I just tried to stay patient, and I felt when I somehow got myself in the play-off it was time to get after it and get it done.

    "I did not look at the leaderboard today – Bones did an unbelievable job of just keeping me in the moment. We were just out playing Southern Hills on a beautiful day, on a Sunday.

    "I could kind of feel through the energy in the crowd that I had a chance, and I know that all the players up ahead of me are great players, but had not won a major, and it is a big moment. 

    "I know I am very nervous, so I know they are very nervous, and I just tried to tell myself that all I can do is control what I can and if it's good enough, great, if not, so be it.

    "It is awesome. it is so nice to hear two-time [champion] instead of one-time."

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