For­mer champ John­son makes move.

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - - SONY OPEN IN HAWAII -

Ev­ery year, two-time ma­jor win­ner Zach John­son looks for­ward to play­ing the Sony Open in Hawaii and strolling the Wa­ialae Coun­try Club grounds.

In 11 pre­vi­ous ap­pear­ances dat­ing back to 2004, John­son has three top-10s, in­clud­ing a win in 2009, miss­ing the cut only twice en route to earn­ing $1.43 mil­lion on this stop on the PGA Tour.

On Thurs­day, he opened with a ho-hum 69 that left him 10 shots be­hind first-round leader Justin Thomas. John­son closed that gap some­what with a 9-un­der 61 that left him tied for third with Justin Rose and Hud­son Swaf­ford. Had he sunk his 35-foot ea­gle putt at the last, he would have be­come the first per­son on tour to shoot three 60s through the course of a ca­reer.

Still, 9 un­der is 9 un­der in one round.

“It was good,” John­son said. “Kind of slug­gish early and then you get one putt to drop and it just kind of can­non­balled there. I had a lot of good looks, and I didn’t make ev­ery­thing, but I cer­tainly hit some close and cap­i­tal­ized.”

John­son made ea­gle from the sand trap at his ninth hole (No. 18).

“And that al­ways helps the cause,” John­son said. “As the day went on, I think it prob­a­bly be­came more solid.”

So, what’s the dif­fer­ence be­tween 69 on Thurs­day and 61 on Fri­day, other than eight shots?

“Com­bi­na­tion of ev­ery­thing,” John­son said. “I con­trolled my flight bet­ter and made some putts. A lot of ev­ery­thing.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Zach John­son hit out of a green­side bunker on 18 for an ea­gle on Fri­day.

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