Justin Thomas shoots 59 at Sony Open
Staring over the top of a bunker on his final hole, the prudent play for Justin Thomas might have been to make sure he got out of the sand and avoided a big number.
But then, Thomas didn’t care about a big number. It was about golf ’s magic number.
“This isn’t a time for me to lay it up,” Thomas said Thursday at the Sony Open in Honolulu.
He hit a 5-iron so clean and so high that it carried 207 yards to 15 feet from the pin on the par-5 ninth hole at Waialae Country Club. Thomas poured in the eagle putt for an 11-under-par 59, becoming the seventh player to post a sub-60 round in PGA Tour history.
For a moment, he reacted as if it were little more than the perfect finish to a great opening round. He stretched out his putter, smiled and punched the air with his right fist. Only when he looked at playing partners Jordan Spieth and Daniel Berger did the sense of history start to hit him.
Berger thrust his arm in the air. Spieth, his best friend in golf since they were 13, crouched as the ball neared the cup and delivered a left-handed fist pump as both raced over to congratulate him.
“I think I got more excited from seeing them get excited than I did my putt going in,” Thomas said. “I thought about it going up to the green. I’m like, ‘If I make it, what am I going to do?’ It’s not like winning a tournament.”
Jim Furyk was the last with a sub-60 round when he closed with a record 58 at the Travelers Championship last summer. Furyk also had a 59 in 2013 at the BMW Championship, joining the exclusive group that includes Al Geiberger (1977 Memphis Classic), Chip Beck (1991 Las Vegas Invitational), David Duval (1999 Bob Hope Classic), Paul Goydos (2010 John Deere Classic) and Stuart Appleby (2010 Greenbrier Classic).
Thomas, who won the Tournament of Champions on Sunday, has a three-stroke over Hudson Swafford. Rory Sabbatini is one more stroke back. European Tour: Rory McIlroy made an impressive start to 2017, shooting a 5-under 67 in the first round of the South African Open in Johannesburg to put himself a stroke off the lead. South African players Trevor Fisher Jr. and Keith Horne shared the lead.
Justin Thomas celebrates after scoring a 59.