Published: Sat, January 13, 2018
Sport | By Cameron Gross

Smith's strong PGA start in Honolulu

Smith's strong PGA start in Honolulu

A card wrecking quadruple bogey by World Number Two Jordan Spieth has dominated the headlines at the opening round of the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Hawaii.

Johnson, the 2009 victor at Waialae in Honolulu, had seven birdies in his seven-under 63, joining early pace-setter Chris Kirk atop the leaderboard in the US PGA Tour's first full-field event of 2018.

Johnson opened with three consecutive birdies, and he converted a sublime pitch from six feet at the last to cap a flawless 63 which earned him a share of the clubhouse lead with Kirk, who had earlier birdied four of the last six holes and also kept a bogey off his card.

Johnson, victor of the 2007 Masters and the 2015 Open championship, broke away from the second-placed bunch at the final hole, despite finding a fairway bunker off the tee.

In-form Brian Harman, who was third at Kapalua last week, is among four Americans in a share of third on six under along with former Ryder Cup player Vaughn Taylor, while defending champion Justin Thomas opened with a solid three-birdie 67.

Johnson admitted that his round was a pleasant surprise, after a bout of flu cost him some pre-season practice time. Stanley capped his round with an eagle at the par-five ninth, rolling in a 41-footer.

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Spieth was headed towards a top ten opening round at the Waialae Country Club, as he cruised at 4 under through 16 holes before disaster struck on the par-4 eighth.

But things were about to take a turn for the worse as he pulled his tee shot left and hit a tree just 220 metres off the tee.

His next also hit a tree as did his fourth before he finally escaped the foliage, though only to find a greenside bunker.

Gooch rocketed out of the blocks with three straight birdies, finishing with eight birdies overall against two bogeys.

He finished with a one-under 69.

Defending champion Justin Thomas, who previous year opened with a 59 before going on to set the PGA Tour's all-time scoring record in a 72-hole event at 253, could not conjure up that same magic as he carded a three-under 67.

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