Justin Thomas holds a 5-stroke lead at the Sony Open in Hawaii

Justin Thomas fol­lows Thurs­day’s 59 with a se­cond-round 64 to break the PGA Tour’s 36-hole scor­ing record

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - By Ja­son Kaneshiro jkaneshiro@starad­ver­tiser.com

Late in an oth­er­wise splen­did af­ter­noon, Justin Thomas walked to the 18th tee on Fri­day bristling over two way­ward swings on his pre­vi­ous hole.

“All my bo­geys to­day were ter­ri­ble,” Thomas said. “When I was on the 18th tee I was pretty hot. I was pretty fired up, the fact that I had given up shots when I felt like I shouldn’t.”

Three shots later, his out­look was far brighter, hav­ing capped a se­cond straight record per­for­mance by rolling in an ea­gle putt.

A day af­ter tear­ing through Wa­ialae Coun­try Club to be­come the youngest player to post a 59 in PGA Tour his­tory, Thomas set the tour’s 36-hole scor­ing record with a 6-un­der-par 64 to open a five-stroke lead go­ing into to­day’s third round of the Sony Open in Hawaii.

With only a hint of a cool­ing breeze, Thomas stayed hot to craft a fine fol­low-up to his his­toric open­ing 18 holes and en­ters to­day’s play at 17-un­der 123 and with the tour­na­ment’s widest 36-hole mar­gin since 2001.

Thomas was 1 un­der for the day af­ter a bo­gey on No. 8, then strung to­gether four con­sec­u­tive birdies. Loose irons into green­side bunkers led to bo­geys on Nos. 13 and 17. But, as on Thurs­day, Thomas closed Fri­day’s round with an ea­gle.

“It’s just like yes­ter­day — any time you can get your name in the record books or his­tory, I’m very ex­cited about that,” Thomas said. “But … I have two more days to go. So I just need to put it be­hind me and get ready to try to shoot low this week­end.”

While he cred­ited pa­tience for keeping him in the mo­ment while he con­tin­ued to col­lect birdies, Thomas gave back a shot af­ter fly­ing the pin from the bunker on No. 17 to set up his third bo­gey of the day.

Af­ter hit­ting his drive into the left rough on the 18th, 212 yards from the hole, he drilled a 7-iron that set­tled in­side of 9 feet from the pin.

“I knew it was a jumper. The main thing was just try­ing to get it be­tween those two bunkers,” Thomas said, “be­cause I knew if I did that it was go­ing to go some­where around the green and just two-putt birdie and get out of there.”

He did one bet­ter in rolling in his ea­gle putt to ex­tend his lead on the pack.

“I didn’t feel too much to­day,” Thomas said of avoid­ing a post-59 let­down “I just felt like it was an­other round of golf and I need to try to build on my lead and see how low I could go to­day.”

Thomas, ranked 12th in the world, is chas­ing his third win in his last five starts and is 39 un­der through six rounds in Hawaii. He mas­tered the hilly Plan­ta­tion Course at Ka­palua to win the SBS Tour­na­ment of Cham­pi­ons at 22 un­der and picked apart Wa­ialae’s far flat­ter lay­out over the past two days.

“It’s def­i­nitely the best of my ca­reer,” the 23-year-old said of his cur­rent run. “I def­i­nitely haven’t shown the world my best golf. I haven’t even shown the world great golf, or con­sis­tent great golf. … I think

I’m just trend­ing up and hope­fully — want­ing to show ev­ery­one in the world what I have.”

Gary Wood­land main­tained con­tact with Thomas for much of the day in ex­tend­ing his run of rounds in the 60s at Wa­ialae to nine with his se­cond straight 6-un­der 64. Wood­land strung to­gether five con­sec­u­tive birdies and will tee off with Thomas at 1 p.m. to­day at 12 un­der for the tour­na­ment.

“I didn’t hit it as well as I did (Thurs­day) but got off to a rocky start,” Wood­land said. “I re­ally kind of set­tled in and I had it go­ing. I had a lot of chances to go lower than I did, but I’m happy with where I’m at.

“(Thomas is) ob­vi­ously play­ing great golf. … Me and JT are good friends and we’ll have a good time.”

Hud­son Swaf­ford moved to 10 un­der Fri­day morn­ing and will also play in to­day’s lead group. Olympic gold

medal­ist Justin Rose moved to 10 un­der with a 64 and is joined by 2009 cham­pion Zach John­son, who fired a 9-un­der 61, the low­est of his 40 rounds at Wa­ialae.

Jor­dan Spi­eth, the for­mer world No. 1, found him­self in sim­i­lar po­si­tions with

Thomas from tee to green in their se­cond round to­gether, but strug­gled to make up ground on the greens. He needed 31 putts on Thurs­day and an­other 30 on Fri­day, clos­ing with a nearly 14-footer for birdie on No 18 to get to 8 un­der.

“I’ve taken care of a lot of

the ball-strik­ing statis­tics we were try­ing to im­prove on this year,” Spi­eth said. “Strik­ing the ball tremen­dously well last week and this week, and I’ve just had a re­ally cold put­ter this week.”

Hideki Mat­suyama, the world’s sixth-ranked player, en­ters the week­end tied for

23rd at 7 un­der af­ter a 67 on Fri­day.

De­fend­ing cham­pion Fabian Gomez shot a 66 and en­ters the week­end at 5 un­der and tied for 48th.

Two-time cham­pion Jimmy Walker’s round of 67 wasn’t enough to get him into the week­end and

missed the cut at 2 un­der. Brandt Snedeker, who lost to Fabian Gomez in a play­off last year, also fin­ished the week at 2 un­der.

Past cham­pi­ons Jerry Kelly (2 un­der), David Toms (even), John­son Wag­ner (1 over) and KJ Choi (2 over) also did not make the cut.

PHO­TOS BY DEN­NIS ODA / DODA@STARAD­VER­TISER.COM

Justin Thomas blasted out of the bunker on 16 in the se­cond round of the Sony Open In Hawaii on Fri­day, lead­ing to one of his three bo­geys. Be­low, Thomas un­leashed a 319-yard drive on the first hole. He is av­er­ag­ing 310.4 yards on his drives in the tour­na­ment.

DEN­NIS ODA / DODA@STARAD­VER­TISER.COM

Daniel Berger, Jor­dan Spi­eth and Justin Thomas walked off the 18th tee on Fri­day. Spi­eth hit it the far­thest at 319 yards, but Berger was the only one to find the fair­way with a 318-yard blast. Thomas set­tled for a 301-yard drive on his way to an ea­gle to his part­ners’ birdies.

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