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If his start to the 2017 season has been any indication, Justin Thomas is in for one heck of a year.
After he captured last week’s title at the Tournament of Champions, Thomas opened the Sony Open at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu with a historic round of 59 to take a commanding lead at 11 under par.
Thomas owns a three–shot edge over Hudson Swafford and a four-shot lead over Rory Sabbatini heading into Friday’s second round:
Thomas opened his round with an eagle on the par-four 10th, and he rounded out his back-nine start with five birdies, a bogey and two pars before he made the turn at No. 1.
The 23-year-old—who became the youngest player in PGA Tour history to break 60, according to Golf Channel’s Justin Ray—proceeded to tally birdies on three of his first four holes on the front nine before he capped off his round with an eagle.
The PGA Tour on Twitter provided video of Thomas draining a 15-foot putt on No. 9:
There it is.
The putt for Justin Thomas to shoot 59. pic.twitter.com/9D48dCp7W4
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) January 12, 2017
Once Thomas was done putting the finishing touches on the PGA Tour’s eighth sub-60 round, ESPN Stats & Info provided a complete look at his scorecard:
Justin Thomas shot a 59, 1 shot shy of the lowest single-round score in PGA TOUR history (Jim Furyk, 2016 Travelers Championship) pic.twitter.com/1KB0b1jnpg
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 13, 2017
Playing alongside Thomas, world No. 5 Jordan Spieth looked sharp.
The two-time major champion fired home a round of five under 65 that included six birdies and a bogey, and that consistency represented a step in the right direction for Spieth.
By comparison, Spieth finished last week’s opening round at the Tournament of Champions at one under after shortcomings with his putter and wedges plagued his play.
Golf Channel’s Arron Oberholser pointed to Spieth’s proficiency with fairway irons as a reason for his success Thursday:
This is how good Spieth hit the ball with his irons today. He shot -5 and had -1.693 strokes gained putting. 😳😳😳
— Arron Oberholser (@ArronOberholser) January 13, 2017
A bit further up the leaderboard, Sabbatini and Swafford are the closest men to Thomas at seven and eight under, respectively.
Those aren’t particularly daunting gulfs considering how ideal scoring conditions appear at Waialae, but based on the way Thomas has been playing over the past week, both players figure to be in for an uphill battle as the weekend approaches.
And if Thomas is able to stay hot and capture back-to-back titles to open the year, he would join some exclusive company. According to Ray, the only players to win consecutive tournaments at age 23 over the past 30 years are Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy.
Fifty-four holes stand between Thomas and history, but his ball-striking, focus and composure on the greens should make him the unquestioned favorite moving forward.
After his record-setting round, Thomas broke down how he was able to break 60 and blow past the competition Thursday, as the PGA Tour documented on Twitter:
Justin Thomas watches himself shoot 59.
Kind of surreal. pic.twitter.com/P4NKCWOjx0
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) January 13, 2017
At what point are you starting to think sub-60?
“Two holes before that.” pic.twitter.com/VqZ9qrrHyb
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) January 13, 2017
“The coolest part for me was how excited they were for me on [No. 9],” Thomas said, according to GolfChannel.com’s Rex Hoggard. “To do that with two of your best friends [Spieth and Daniel Berger] out here and two of your friends that you played with for so long.”
Speaking of which, Spieth couldn’t help but gush over Thomas’ performance after his buddy stole the show.
“It’s like sitting on the bench with a teammate throwing a perfect game,” Spieth said, according to the Associated Press’ Doug Ferguson. “It was awesome. What an awesome last five rounds he’s had.”