Fresh off a vic­tory, Justin Thomas joins the 59 club

The Reporter (Lansdale, PA) - - SPORTS - By Doug Fer­gu­son

Fresh of his vic­tory on Maui, Justin Thomas be­came the sev­enth player to join the “59 Club” on the PGA Tour when he made a 15-foot ea­gle putt on his last hole Thurs­day at the Sony Open for an 11-un­der 59.

Thomas thought his hopes at a 59 were over when his drive on the par-5 ninth hole at Wa­ialae Coun­try Club was a foot from clearing a fair­way bunker on the left and rolled back into the sand. He fig­ured he couldn’t reach the green un­til re­al­iz­ing Daniel Berger hit 4-iron from the bunker onto the green.

Thomas fig­ured “this wasn’t a time to lay up.”

He hit 5-iron clean and pure, and it set­tled 15 feet be­low the cup. Wast­ing lit­tle time over the putt, he poured it in for 59 and lightly pumped his fist. The ex­cite­ment came from Berger and Jor­dan Spi­eth, and only when Thomas looked at their re­ac­tion did it be­gin to sink in.

“I got more ex­cited from see­ing them get ex­cited,” he said.

Jim Furyk was the last player 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).

This was spe­cial be­cause he made it look so easy.

Thomas, a 23-year-old with enor­mous power for his 145-pound frame, never hit more than a 7-iron into the par 4s at Wa­ialae on a per­fect day for scor­ing — very lit­tle breeze, fast fair­ways and soft greens. That 7-iron was chipped un­der the trees and into a bunker on No. 8 when he was try­ing to save par.

His only bo­gey came on his sec­ond hole, the par-3 11th, when his tee shot went into a bunker and he missed an 18-foot par putt.

Du­val was the only other player to shoot 59 with an ea­gle on the last hole. Furyk at Con­way Farms is the only other player to shoot 59 with a bo­gey.

Spi­eth, best friends with Thomas since they were 13, was more ner­vous than Thomas and far more demon­stra­tive. Thomas had a 30-foot birdie putt on No. 7 that looked good even when it was inches from the cup un­til burn­ing the edge. Spi­eth clutched the back of his neck and was still ask­ing how the putt didn’t fall when he walked onto the next tee. He was talk­ing to him­self, of course. He gave Thomas his space.

“It’s like sit­ting on the bench with a team­mate throw­ing a per­fect game,” Spi­eth said. “It was awe­some. What an awe­some last five rounds he’s had.”

Just four days ago, Thomas closed birdie-birdie for a 69 to win the SBS Tour­na­ment of Cham­pi­ons at Ka­palua. He started his round Thurs­day at Wa­ialae by pitch­ing in from 35 yards for an ea­gle on the short 10th hole. And he was off.

MARCO GAR­CIA — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Justin Thomas fol­lows his drive off the tenth tee dur­ing the first round of the Sony Open golf tour­na­ment Thurs­day in Honolulu.

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