Walker takes two-shot lead after opening round

Kapalua, January 6

Reigning PGA Championship winner Jimmy Walker fired a bogey-free 65 on Thursday to take the lead after the first round of the Tournament of Champions, the inaugural USPGA Tour event of 2017.

The 37-year-old Walker rolled in six birdies and an eagle for a two-shot lead over fellow Americans Ryan Moore, Jim Herman and Justin Thomas at the Plantation Course at Kapalua Resort.

World No 1 Jason Day of Australia is five shots off the pace and tied for 12th while defending tournament champion and world No 2 Jordan Spieth is tied for 22nd at 72 after two bogeys and three birdies.

Walker shot eight under and his eagle came at the par-five, 532-yard No 5 hole after placing his 226-yard approach shot 12 feet off the cup. “(The putt) had about 12 feet of break on it,” said Walker.

The Tournament of Champions is the third start of the 2016-17 season for Walker, who missed the cut at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open and tied for 77th at the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions.

He also plays very well in Hawaii, winning the Sony Open in 2014 and 2015 and finishing runner-up in the 2015 Tournament of Champions. “I enjoy being here. I love the scenery. I’m a very visual person, so I enjoy looking out and watching the whales when I’m walking around,” he said.

Herman, Thomas and Moore carded 67s, with all three playing bogey free and Moore picking up two eagles at No 5 and the par-four No 3 Daniel Berger and Jason Dufner are tied for fifth at 68.

World No 3 Dustin Johnson headlines a five-way tie for seventh with Cody Gribble, Pat Perez, Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama and Australia’s Rod Pampling at 69.

Day had three bogeys to go with six birdies. “(My play) was actually alright,” said Day, who signed an endorsement deal with Nike last week. “Just didn’t putt that great.”