Walker (65) takes Round 1 lead at Kapalua


The 2017 golf season is officially off the ground, and a major champion holds the top spot. Here's how things look after the first round of the SBS Tournament of Champions, where Jimmy Walker has opened up a two-shot lead:

Leaderboard: Jimmy Walker (-8), Jim Herman (-6), Justin Thomas (-6), Ryan Moore (-6), Daniel Berger (-5), Jason Dufner (-5)

What it means: Walker hasn't done much since winning the PGA Championship in July, but he has an affinity for the Aloha State that was on full display Thursday. Twice a winner of the Sony Open in nearby Honolulu, he now has an early advantage as he looks to book a return trip to the Plantation Course next year.

Round of the day: Walker struggled with accuracy off the tee down the stretch last year, but there is plenty of room on the Plantation Course. Walker took advantage, playing his first six holes in 5 under including an eagle on the par-5 fifth. He added three more birdies over the final five holes and missed only one green en route to an opening 65 on the par-73 layout.

Best of the rest: Thomas is playing in the winners-only event for the second straight year, and he caught fire after a slow start. Thomas followed seven straight pars to open his round with three birdies on Nos. 8-10, then added three more over his final seven holes. Despite making only one putt over 10 feet, Thomas' 67 left him two shots off the pace.

Biggest disappointment: Jordan Spieth cruised to victory here last year, shooting a tournament-record 30 under par, but he has a long way to go to match that lofty total. Spieth played 10 straight holes without making a birdie in the middle of his round, shooting 1-over 38 on the back nine to finish with a 1-under 72. The score left Spieth seven shots off the early pace and ahead of just five players in the 32-man field.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Walker is a strong frontrunner, and his six Tour titles are double the haul of Thomas and Herman combined. He remains the man to watch after such a strong start, but keep an eye on two players who closed 2016 in strong fashion: Moore, just two shots back, and Hideki Matsuyama, who opened with a 4-under 69.