KAPALUA, Hawaii – We’re halfway through the SBS Tournament of Champions and there was quite a bit of movement on a perfect day at the Plantation Course. Jordan Spieth made a move forward, then backward. Patrick Reed assumed a familiar position but is still a shot behind co-leaders Justin Thomas and Ryan Moore. Here are a few takeaways from Friday at Kapalua:
• Jordan Spieth receives a lion’s share of the attention almost everywhere he goes, especially here at Kapalua after his eight-shot romp last year. But Patrick Reed is an absolute machine around the Plantation Course.
For the first time in his career Reed hit all 18 greens in regulation en route to an 8-under 65. He only missed one fairway, too. In the last 10 rounds here (he won in 2015) he’s a combined 54 under par and has shot 3-under or better all 10 times.
“Any time I can come out, set up with wide fairways, large greens and be able to just kind of shape the golf ball and do whatever I want with it and be creative, it kind of fits into my wheelhouse,” Reed said.
• Speaking of Spieth, he had everyone paying attention to him early. He rattled off five consecutive birdies in one stretch to vault into contention, but a nasty triple bogey on the 17th hole moved him back down the leaderboard.
The good news, he made nine birdies. The bad news, he only shot 69. He’s tied for 19th place, seven shots off the lead.
It was the first time Spieth ever recorded a triple bogey in a round and broke 70. He had only made four bogeys total in his first eight rounds at Kapalua. On Friday he recorded a double bogey to go along with the triple.
“I’m not known for making big numbers and it seems to be a thing that’s happened in the last year and a half or so, maybe trying to do a little too much,” Spieth said. “So you live and learn, and again, as we go into next week I can take rounds like today as positives vs. negatives; knowing that those other little things are going to stop, but those nine birdies are going to keep happening.”
• Justin Thomas made it perfectly clear, he’s past the point in his career where he’s just hoping for good finishes. It’s now all about the wins.
At No. 22 in the world and with two PGA Tour victories, Thomas feels like he should contend anytime he tees it up. He had a lackluster performance at this event a year ago because he didn’t prepare much in the offseason and was determined to right that wrong this year.
He’s off to a hot start and is doing everything well, most notably iron play which has led to hitting 33 of 36 greens. He’s won two of his previous four events when holding at least a share of the 36-hole lead.
“The main thing I focused on in the offseason was my driving,” Thomas said. “If I can drive it a lot straighter or even just a little straighter, there’s no reason I shouldn’t be in contention, or be at least around the hunt going into the weekend, or come Sunday.”
• Nearly a third of the field is within four shots of the lead, something we didn’t see last year because Spieth was ahead by four after two rounds.
Although it is extremely tight at the top, statistics show that it’s rare that someone comes from out of nowhere to make a run on the weekend.
Four of the last five winners of the Tournament of Champions held the 36-hole lead and each of the last six winners were at or within two shots of the lead after the second round.