LOS ANGELES • Justin Thomas fired a second successive seven-under 65 for the halfway lead at the Zozo Championship on Friday, but he was not a happy man despite being in prime position for a 14th PGA Tour title.
“I played well. But I’m not very pleased with the finish. The last six holes I would have liked to at least have got something,” said the 27-year-old who leads on 14-under 130 at Sherwood Country Club, Thousand Oaks, California.
The 2017 FedExCup champion made seven birdies in his opening 12 holes after starting from the 10th but parred home the last six on another day of low scoring in the US$8 million (S$10.9 million) showpiece which moved from Japan to the United States this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Despite going bogey-free, Thomas was disappointed he did not take advantage of ideal scoring conditions, especially on the par fives on his inward nine.
He ended the day one ahead of Lanto Griffin and South Africa’s Dylan Frittelli, who shot matching 65s. Last season’s Rookie of the Year, Scottie Scheffler, and world No. 14 Patrick Cantlay also carded 65s to lie two back.
With Sherwood yielding low scores – 56 players shot in the 60s on Friday – Thomas knows he needs to keep his foot on the pedal to savour a first win of the 2020-21 season.
It will be the 11th occasion he has led or co-led after 36-holes on Tour where he has gone on to win on six occasions, the last being at the CJ Cup in South Korea last October.
“It’s not very difficult,” said Thomas. “Got off to a hot start today and kind of coasted coming in. If you are getting the ball in play off the tee there are so many scoring clubs. You can attack it if you are really playing well.
“It’s short and the greens are soft right now. So obviously if they get firmer and they tuck the pins a little bit more, it is going to be harder and the scores will be higher.”
A pack on 133 included Bubba Watson and Patrick Reed, who both shot 63, and fellow American Richy Werenski, who set a course record with a 61.
He made six birdies on both the front and back nine against a lone bogey at the par-four sixth to break the old mark of 62 set by Tiger Woods.
Defending Zozo champion Woods, who won the inaugural edition last year in Japan, opened with a 76 but bounced back with a 66, matching his best since last year’s event.
“I hit the ball so much better,” he said. “Today was a lot more sharp and a lot more crisp and clean.”
The 15-time Major champion birdied four of the first six holes and two of the last three but still shared 66th in a field of 77.
He had four birdies and a par on the par-five holes after going three-over on them on Thursday.
“Yesterday was not very good,” Woods added. “I really didn’t swing the club that poorly. I was just a fraction off and I got out of position a couple times.
“It just snowballed into a high number. Was never really able to get any kind of momentum going.
“Today was different. Got off to a much better start and kept rolling.”
PGA TOUR, REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE