It’s crowded at Kapalua
Thomas, Moore top jam-packed leaderboard; more low scores expected
KAPALUA — Justin Thomas and Ryan Moore are the leaders, but the race is on for many at the midway point of the SBS Tournament of Champions.
Thomas and Moore each fired a 6-under-par 67 for the second day in a row to stand at 12-under 134 after Friday’s second round at the Kapalua Plantation Course, but 14 other players were within five strokes of the lead.
“This golf course, you need to make birdies. That’s all there is to it,” Moore said. “I mean, it gets close to 20-ish (under par) every single year, and you know it’s going to be around that. I’m sitting at 12. I know I have a ways to go to get to that point.”
Thomas and Moore each had seven birdies and a bogey Friday.
“I haven’t been playing as well as the scores show, so that’s always a positive,” Thomas said. “It’s frustrating sometimes when you’re playing well and you’re not getting much out of it, but I feel like I’m really getting a lot out of my game (here). I’m just not hitting my irons as well as I’d like, so it’s been nice to get around here with only one bogey so far.”
Moore, who had two eagles in the first five holes Thursday, birdied five of his final seven holes in the second round.
“The rounds have been very different, but I like how I’ve scored in both of them, shooting 6-under,” Moore said. “You know, I’ve got to keep that pace up.”
One stroke back were Patrick Reed, the 2015 champion, and the man he beat in a playoff for that title, first-round leader Jimmy Walker.
Reed fired Friday’s best round, a 65, while Walker had a 70.
Jason Dufner was fifth at 136, one shot in front of Hideki Matsuyama — they each shot 68.
Thomas is 23 years old, Reed is 26 and Hideki Matsuyama is 24. Moore, Walker and Dufner are all 34 or older.
“It’s not easy no matter who you are,” Thomas said. “That’s the hard part about our sport, especially someone like a lot of us at the top or us young guys. I obviously want to win every week I play, but it’s just not going to happen. Doesn’t matter how good you are. You’re just going to have weeks you’re off or someone played better or beat you, and often it’s a lot of guys that beat you, unfortunately.”
This week, of course, has fewer opponents.
“This is your best chance, you would say,” said Thomas, a two-time PGA Tour winner. “You only have to beat 30 people or however many people it is. Obviously the winners, they are all great players, but I’ll take my chances over 32 versus 144 every single week.”
Thomas tied for 21st in his Kapalua debut last year.
“I just prepared, actually, this year,” he said to laughter in the interview room. “I mean, I obviously practiced and prepared last year, but I just didn’t as much as I should have. I didn’t take it like a normal event.”
Moore, who has two top-10 finishes in four previous appearances on Maui, is expecting a horse race this weekend.
“The guys that are around me are obviously great players and they have won tournaments on the PGA Tour to be here and are playing well this week already,” Moore said.
Reed birdied four of the last five holes despite a cold he has been battling all week.
“I learned a lot from yesterday. With not feeling well yesterday, I tried to hit some full shots and unfortunately with being under the weather, you just don’t have complete control over your body,” he said. “So what I made sure I did today is I made sure I didn’t swing harder than 90 percent on anything, and because of that, I had a lot more control and had a feel of where the club was and had a lot more quality looks at putts on the greens.”
Reed is 64 under in 14 career rounds on the Plantation Course.
“Any time I can come out, set up with wide fairways, large greens and be able to just kind of shape the golf ball and do whatever I want with it and be creative, it kind of fits into my wheelhouse,” Reed said.
Walker’s round was somewhat uneventful, with 13 pars.
“I stayed patient. Just nothing was really kind of happening,” he said. “I hit a lot of good shots. Just didn’t make any putts. A lot of lips. I had a couple horseshoes and a couple of tight lipouts. Compared to yesterday, yeah, sure felt like a lot, but 3 under is great. I’ll take it.”
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com
SBS TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS
At Kapalua Plantation Course
Friday’s Second Round
Justin Thomas 67-67–134 -12
Ryan Moore 67-67–134 -12
Patrick Reed 70-65–135 -11
Jimmy Walker 65-70–135 -11
Jason Dufner 68-68–136 -10
Hideki Matsuyama 69-68–137 -9
Tony Finau 70-68–138 -8
Fabian Gomez 70-68–138 -8
Daniel Berger 68-70–138 -8
Jim Herman 67-71–138 -8
Brendan Steele 72-67–139 -7
Jason Day 70-69–139 -7
William McGirt 70-69–139 -7
Dustin Johnson 69-70–139 -7
Russell Knox 71-69–140 -6
Brandt Snedeker 70-70–140 -6
Pat Perez 69-71–140 -6
Rod Pampling 69-71–140 -6
Jordan Spieth 72-69–141 -5
Charley Hoffman 71-70–141 -5
Cody Gribble 69-72–141 -5
Brian Stuard 72-71–143 -3
Vaughn Taylor 72-71–143 -3
Greg Chalmers 71-72–143 -3
Aaron Baddeley 70-73–143 -3
James Hahn 74-70–144 -2
Bubba Watson 72-72–144 -2
Si Woo Kim 75-70–145 -1
Mackenzie Hughes 73-72–145 -1
Branden Grace 73-74–147 +1
Billy Hurley III 74-73–147 +1
Jhonattan Vegas 72-76–148 +2
Today’s tee times
8:35 a.m.–Billy Hurley III, Jhonattan Vegas.
8:45 a.m.–Mackenzie Hughes, Branden Grace.
8:55 a.m.–Bubba Watson, Si Woo Kim.
9:05 a.m.–Aaron Baddeley, James Hahn.
9:15 a.m.–Vaughn Taylor, Greg Chal-mers.
9:25 a.m.–Cody Gribble, Brian Stuard.
9:35 a.m.–Jordan Spieth, Charley Hoffman.
9:45 a.m.–Pat Perez, Rod Pampling.
9:55 a.m.–Russell Knox, Brandt Snedeker.
10:05 a.m.–William McGirt, Dustin Johnson.
10:15 a.m.–Brendan Steele, Jason Day.
10:25 a.m.–Daniel Berger, Jim Herman.
10:35 a.m.–Tony Finau, Fabian Gomez.
10:45 a.m.–Jason Dufner, Hideki Matsuyama.
10:55 a.m.–Patrick Reed, Jimmy Walker.
11:05 a.m.–Justin Thomas, Ryan Moore.