Justin Thomas Completes Hawaiian Sweep With Record-Breaking Win at Sony Open

Justin Thomas

Justin Thomas began his Sony Open with the PGA Tour’s eighth sub-60 round and never looked back as the 23-year old registered his fourth PGA Tour victory and second in as many weeks.

Thomas’ 253 total set an new PGA Tour record for lowest four-round total breaking the previous record held by Tommy Armour III at the Valero Texas Open. Thomas also set records for lowest two-day and three-day totals as well.

Thomas’ blistering pace on Thursday took much of the drama out of the remaining three rounds. In fact, the only real drama was if Smylie Kaufman and Jordan Spieth were going to drown themselves kayaking – they came pretty close.

Some perspective as to how good Thomas was, Gary Woodland opened the tournament with a pair of 64s and still found himself five-shots behind heading into the weekend.

With the win, Thomas joins Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods has the only players to win in three of their first five starts of the season. Thomas also joins Ernie Els and the only players to win both Hawaiian events in the same year – Els accomplished that feat in 2003 when he set the Kapalua scoring record at 31-under and defeated Aaron Baddeley in a great Sunday duel at the Sony.

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The accomplishment is so impressive because Kapalua and Waialae are such contrasting layouts. Kapalua’s vast fairways and long yardage are replaced by Waialae’s tight fairways and small greens. Both courses test different aspects of a players game and if you are able to master them both, as Thomas exemplified, you are in complete control of your game.

Scores were low throughout the week because like many of the British Open layouts, Waialae isn’t much of a challenge without the wind. Its main defense is the Hawaiian trade winds and the absence of any wind provided perfect scoring conditions.

The low scores bring into the question of what fans like to see? Early in the season, perfect weather and relatively easy courses, especially next week in Palm Springs, surrender very low scores, which can be entertaining, but can also bring about the feel like these guys are playing a pitch and putt.

Other than Thomas, the big names in the field all had strong weeks. Jordan Spieth notched his second consecutive top-five, while Justin Rose finished in the solo 2nd in his first start on the PGA Tour this season. Former champion Zach Johnson has a strong week and finished tied-sixth.

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Thomas’ victory moves him up to No. 8 in the world golf rankings and his play will generate plenty of conversation as to where he stands in pantheon of great players. Thomas has more wins (and less hype) than the likes of Rickie Fowler and Bryson DeChambeau, but still has to prove that he can be on the same level as McIlroy, Spieth, and Day.

The Golf Channel and other golf media outlets love to crown the next big thing, so prepare for a honeymoon phase where Thomas is gushed over incessantly. However, there is no doubt who the hottest player in the world is and if he keeps playing at this rate, Thomas will find himself as the favorite heading into The Masters.

Otter Room Picks:

Eeesh. My bad. For as good as the picks were last week, they were equally atrocious this week. My dark horse, Paul Casey, missed the cut at Even and my pick to win, Jimmy Walker, missed the cut as well at -2.

Shot of the Week:

As mentioned, the weekend was fairly drama-free, so the shot of the week is Thomas draining his eagle putt to clinch a 59 on Thursday.



Drunk Fan(s) of the Week:

The 17th hole at Waialae looks like a great place to watch golf. Its not rowdy like the 16th at TPC Scottsdale, but it is a great hole with a great vantage point overlooking the ocean – hard to beat. During the telecast, it was mentioned that the fans were staying properly “hydrated” in the grandstand behind the green. These guys may have been a little too hydrated…..there are worse places to pass out.

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(Photo credit: Jackie McGushin)

P.S. The fact that Thomas does not have a girlfriend has not gone unnoticed……

#thirsty

#thirstier

Stay tuned to The Otter Room Wednesday for a complete preview of The Career Builder Challenge (Phil’s back).

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