US PGA champion Jimmy Walker leads after a bogey-free first round, with Jason Day and Jordan Speith making slow starts in Hawaii.
1 WALKER -8
T2 MOORE, HERMAN, THOMAS -6
T5 DUFNER, BERGER -5
In what were ideal conditions, except for the occasional light rain shower, Jimmy Walker hit two birdies on the par-five 15th and par-five 18th for a two shot lead in the opening PGA Tour event of 2017.
Walker – who lost in a playoff with Patrick Reed in Kapalua two years ago – hit one eagle, six birdies and 11 pars at the Plantation course this time around to shoot 65.
In the off-season, Walker shortened his driver to try and improve his game off the tee. But with a driving accuracy of just 73.3%, it was his shots with the irons, wedges and putter that were the stars of the show.
His opening round ended with a GIR score of 94.4%, the joint highest in the round alongside Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama.
With his impressive record in PGA Events taking place in Hawaii, little would look past Walker to avenge that 2015 defeat to Reed this weekend.
OTHER NOTABLE PERFORMANCES
Justin Thomas: The 23-year old and world number 22 followed up his CIMB Classic victory with a six-under-par 67. His four birdies in five holes during the middle of his round eased the pressure off the young American, who made a slow yet steady start with seven consecutive pars.
Rod Pampling: One of the most experience men competing in the Tournament of Champions this year is Australia’s Pampling. The 47-year-old hasn’t competed in this competition for a decade, but you wouldn’t of thought it as he hit a four-under-par 69. He is tied seventh alongside world number six Matsuyama and US Open champion Dustin Johnson.
SPIETH AND DAY STRUGGLE TO GET GOING
It wasn’t the start to 2017 neither the world number one or the current defending champion would’ve wanted.
Spieth won this event last year with a score of -30. He will need to hit two majestic rounds if he is to get anywhere near that score again. Two bogeys on the back nine looked to deflate the former Masters and US Open champ, but his birdie on the 18th crucially see the 23-year old get into gear.
Day managed to end the day on three-under-par, but the Aussie did hit a bogey on the second hole to get off to a sluggish start. Birdies on both the 13th, 14th and 15th seemed to have rescued the round, only for the number one to hit a bogey six on the final hole.