Just three days after becoming the seventh player ever to shoot 59 on the PGA Tour, Justin Thomas completed a record-setting two-week stretch in Hawaii by posting the lowest 72-hole score in PGA Tour history. Thomas, who, it should go without saying, won the Sony Open in a runaway, finished his four days of dominance at 27-under. The 253 strokes eclipses Tommy Armour III’s 254 mark set at the 2003 Texas Open.
For one year at least, the Aloha swing will be known as the JT swing. That’s because the 23-year-old super talent made the Sony Open a race for second place since Thursday. Just four days after getting his third PGA Tour victory and first one on American soil at the SBS Tournament of Champions over on Maui, Thomas easily won at historic Waialae. He backed up his opening round 59 with a 64 on Friday, setting the all-time 36-hole scoring mark — the lowest midpoint score in PGA Tour history. That’s a lot of rounds from a lot of great players, and the 72-hole mark would fall just two days later.
Unlike last week in Maui, where Thomas made it interesting for a moment on the back nine, this Sony Open was never close the entire weekend. The only drama was whether Thomas would break the all-time 72-hole scoring record of 254. He started Sunday with a seven-shot lead, and while the closest chasers included studs like Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose, and Zach Johnson, there was no chance this was going to get tight in a primetime final round.
The part of Thomas’s game that gets all the headlines is his power. He’s listed at a measly 145 pounds, but hits it a mile, bombing two drives over 400 yards last week at Kapalua. And that power was there this week at times too, as Thomas decided to cut off doglegs and use his distance off the tee to attack the classic Waialae course.
But this is also a course where power can be mitigated at times. Thomas is the kind of talent that can do it all — tee to green, around the green, and on the green. You do not join this kind of club if you’re nothing but a power player.
This is a pretty decent club Justin Thomas is about to join. pic.twitter.com/CQ7WUiZxUr— Kyle Porter (@KylePorterCBS) January 16, 2017
On Sunday, Thomas flashed some wedge work with this near hole-out that kept the scoring record within sight on the back nine.
Thomas was a decorated junior player, going toe-to-toe with Spieth on the national circuit, where that friendship developed. He won a national title at Alabama and also won the Haskins Award for the college player of the year as a freshman.
That he’s now winning on the PGA Tour isn’t exactly a surprise, but the way he’s opened 2017 by dominating two strong fields is a different kind of statement than we might have expected as the New Year began. For example, Spieth’s worst round this week was a 67, and he finished eight shots back of the winner. Spieth admitted afterwards that he felt like he was "playing a different tournament."
What happens in early January can obviously have no impact on what will happen in April or over the summer. But this stretch for Thomas should hasten his ascent in the game. A major may not come right away, or even all that soon, but he’s going to win more, and probably a lot more. Thomas has been around the top of the leaderboard his first few years on Tour, but he’s now converting and has said as much. This is only the beginning and he’s doing it in record fashion with a strut that the next generation embraced long before these last two breakout weeks in Hawaii. Tiger is back in two weeks, but having another one of these "next generation" stars starting to add to his resume in such convincing fashion has us that much more hyped for a big 2017, and Thomas will definitely continue to be a part of that.
Here’s your final board from Waialae:
|Place||Player||Score||Round 1||Round 2||Round 3||Round 4||Total||Payout|
|T8||Charles Howell III||-16||65||66||68||65||264||$180,000.00|
|T20||Billy Hurley III||-12||64||68||68||68||268||$62,571.00|