Johnson, Kirk share lead at Sony Open

Zach Johnson putts on the 16th green during the first round of the Sony Open on Thursday. • AP photo

Quadruple bogey on Waialae’s eighth hole puts Spieth six back

By DOUG FERGUSON
The Associated Press
HONOLULU — Zach Johnson and Chris Kirk each made seven birdies and shared the lead in the Sony Open.
Jordan Spieth made eight birdies and for the second straight year walked away from Waialae Country Club amazed that he could be six shots behind.
A year ago, it was because Justin Thomas shot 59 playing in the same group.
On Thursday, it was one hole.
Spieth hit four trees with four shots on the par-4 eighth hole — his 17th of the opening round — starting with a tough break when his tee shot caromed off the trunk of a tree and down an 8-foot deep ditch that left him no good options. He wound up with a quadruple-bogey 8 and had to settle for a 69.
He signed his card, signed autographs and declined requests to speak to the media.
Johnson and Kirk kept clean cards playing on opposite sides of the draw. They were a shot ahead of Brian Harman, Vaughn Taylor, Kyle Stanley and PGA Tour rookie Talor Gooch.
Thomas, who set the PGA Tour scoring record for 72 holes in his wire-to-wire victory, opened with a 67 and was all smiles at the end. Thomas, an Alabama alum, won a bet on the college football championship that required Georgia graduate Kevin Kisner to wear a Crimson Tide jersey on the par-3 17th.
“It’s definitely the best Kis has ever looked in a jersey,” Thomas said.
Kisner kept the jersey and plans to auction it off for charity. He shot 68.
More than half of the field — 77 players — broke par in the mild trade winds and relentless sunshine.
Kirk had only one top 10 last year — his final event of the year in the RSM Classic at Sea Island — and nearly two months off didn’t appear to half any momentum.
“I’ve probably been off long enough now that you never know what’s going to happen,” he said. “I really had no expectations whether I was going to play good or bad after having some time off. But this is a golf course that I’ve traditionally done pretty well on, and a place that I really love. So you always feel like it’s possible.”
The best round from a Hawaii golfer came from Moanalua graduate John Oda, who fired a 2-under 68. Kihei’s Eric Dugas, who earned his Sony spot with a win in the Aloha Section Stroke Play Championship in October, opened with a 71.