It’s crowded at Kapalua

Thomas, Moore top jam-packed leaderboard; more low scores expected

Justin Thomas watches his chip shot to the Kapalua Plantation Course’s 14th green during the second round of the SBS Tournament of Champions on Friday. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

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.”

SBS Leaderboard

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.

Ryan Moore hits off the 11th tee Friday during the SBS Tournament of Champions’ second round. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

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.

Justin Thomas waits to catch a ball he tapped into the air with his club while waiting to tee off on the first hole. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

“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.”

Bubba Watson blasts his pink golf ball from a trap on No. 14. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

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

Jhonattan Vegas chips from the yard of a home adjacent to the Plantation Course’s 14th hole — he managed to save par. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo



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.

Jordan Spieth watches a shot. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

Jimmy Walker acknowledges the gallery’s applause. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo