Published: Sat, January 13, 2018
Sport | By Wilson Duncan

Kirk, Zach Johnson lead Sony Open, Spieth takes late tumble

Kirk, Zach Johnson lead Sony Open, Spieth takes late tumble

Associated Press Brian Harman's game stayed with him from one island to the next in Hawaii as he made eagle on his last hole for a 7-under 63 and the early lead in the Sony Open in Honolulu.

A tree-laden quadruple bogey for former FedExCup champion Jordan Spieth has derailed what appeared a promising opening round at the Sony Open in Hawaii.

The American was four under with two holes to play, but he endured a nightmare on the par-four eighth. He wound up with a quadruple-bogey 8, marring his eight-birdie round for only a 69. Joining him will be good friend and defending champion Justin Thomas, who secured back-to-back 67s to be 6 under for the tournament. Thomas, an Alabama alum, won a bet that required Georgia graduate Kevin Kisner to wear a Crimson Tide jersey from the tee box to the green.

He reached the green in two at the ninth, making a 17-footer for eagle for a ideal finish to his round.

"I'm kind of going back to some of the drills that I did four, five years ago when I was putting week-in, week-out really well, and trying to do those drills every day", Kirk said. He picked up an unlikely birdie on the 13th from the fairway bunker by making a 25-foot putt, and he made a 20-foot birdie on the next hole.

European/Sunshine Tours: In Gauteng, South Africa, Branden Grace and Chase Koepka shot 7-under-par 65s to share the first-round lead at the SA Open.

The US PGA Championship victor made two birdies and an eagle - at the ninth - to finish his round. "I really had no expectations whether I was going to play good or bad after having some time off". "I considered hitting a lob wedge because I had something like 30 yards to the hole into the breeze".

"Just kept the course in front of me and played solid golf", Johnson said, winless since the 2015 British Open at St. Andrews. This one hit the trunk of a tree and tumbled down a wide (and dry) ditch about 8 feet below the fairway.

He could have dropped it with a penalty stroke, but there was nowhere to go.

But his tee shot pulled left off the tee and collected with a tree, knocking it down into the rough.

Waialae is at sea level - waist-high hedges along the 16th and 17th holes and behind the 11th green are all that separate grass from the beach - with smaller, flatter greens and fairways framed by trees. "He did knock in two par-savers from between eight and 10 feet, also draining a 12'11" par putt at 3.

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