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Dave Tindall

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Roundup: Tway twirls a 66

Friday, January 4, 2019


Recap of the day

 

The last four first-round leaders in the Sentry Tournament of Champions at Kapalua had gone out in one of the final five groups but Kevin Tway changed the script Thursday. The 30-year-old, who punched his ticket with victory in October’s Safeway Open, teed off in the second group out and roared to the top of the leaderboard with a bogey-free 66. Not bad for one of the first-timers in the field although he had played the course in practice as a teenager when coming to watch his Dad Bob compete here. Today’s 66 secured a one-shot lead over big-hitting trio Gary Woodland, Justin Thomas and defending champion Dustin Johnson. Aussie Marc Leishman broke the U.S. monopoly in the top five with a 68. In all, 21 of the 33 starters shot under par. World No. 1 Brooks Koepka was not one of them, stumbling to a 3-over 76 to sit T30. There’s re-draw for round two, with Keegan Bradley playing solo at 10:05 and Tway and Woodland heading out in the final pairing at 12:40.

 

R1 leaderboard: -7 Kevin Tway, -6 Gary Woodland, Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson, -5 Marc Leishman, -4 Andrew Putnam, Andrew Landry, Patton Kizzire, Jason Day, Rory McIlroy, Bryson DeChambeau, -3 Patrick Reed, Jon Rahm, Bubba Watson, Webb Simpson.


Selected others: Evs Francesco Molinari, +3 Brooks Koepka.


Latest betting: 9/4 Dustin Johnson, 9/2 Justin Thomas, 11/1 Bryson DeChambeau, 12/1 Jon Rahm, Marc Leishman, Rory McIlroy, 14/1 Gary Woodland, 16/1 Jason Day.


 

Injury report

 

Kevin Na withdrew ahead of the round, citing a finger injury.

 

 

Friday weather forecast

 

The usual tradewinds are out in force again for round two and it’ll blow at a steady 25mph for most of the day. There’s some sunshine too with temps locked in around 75-80 degrees.

 

 

Leaders after 18 holes

 

Kevin Tway (66) – Another reminder of ‘beware the sick golfer’. Tway endured an ear and sinus infection in the build-up, forcing him out of Wednesday’s pro-am after a few holes. No matter, he striped 15 greens, had 100% scrambling stats and ranked seventh in SG: Putting to secure his second career first-round lead/co-lead.


Gary Woodland (67) – Woodland’s big hitting makes obvious appeal at this venue but gamers were also drawn in by his improved putting since working with Phil Kenyon. The latter was key again as he drained four birdies from outside 11 feet for his joint-low round at The Plantation Course. Played on his own after Na’s WD.

 

Justin Thomas (67, 135) – Thomas likes a 67 here; he opened with three of them when winning (-22) this event two years ago. JT was just 1-under thru’ 11 but collected five circles over his final seven holes, four of his conversions from inside four feet. Ranked second in SG: Tee To Green.


Dustin Johnson (67, 135) – DJ won this with 24-under last year and he maintained that 6-under average with a 67 today. Seven birdies against a single bogey, picked up shots on all the par 5s and ranked 1st in SG: Off The Tee.

 


Fate of the favorites

 

We’ve already covered DJ and JT so let’s add in…..

 

Jon Rahm (70) – Last year’s runner-up and winner of December’s Hero World Challenge stuttered early (+1 after 8) but got going a little coming home. A cold putter (-0.859 SGP) didn’t help but this was still a shot lower than his opener from 12 months ago.

 

Rory McIlroy (69) – Turned a modest day into a decent one with three birdies in his final four holes. Put the Spyder putter in his bag this week to improve alignment after “messing around with it for the last few months” and ranked 12th for the day in SG: Putting (0.375). Hit 17 greens.

 

Brooks Koepka (76) – Five bogeys and a double. Somehow only hit 53.33% of the wide-open fairways and 28th out of 33 for SG: Putting. A day to forget.

 

 

Quotes

 

Kevin Tway (66): “I played good. Not feeling well, but yeah, I hit the ball well, kept the ball in play, made a few putts, controlled my ball in the wind. It’s windy where I’m from in Oklahoma so it’s kind of like I was at home. Live in Florida now, it’s windy every day, so it’s kind of what I’m used to.”

 

Gary Woodland (67): “It was nice. I drove the golf ball well, controlled the balls into the greens and I putted well. So all in all I had everything working today, which was nice.”

 

Justin Thomas (67): “The hardest part for me out there today was just the greens. It just was really, really hard to make putts when it’s this windy. You’re playing for the wind and the wind stops and you can look stupid pretty quickly.”


Bryson DeChambeau (69): “Ball striking, I was having the correct distances, just didn’t have the right shot shape into those types of winds. So definitely learning this golf course a little bit more compared to last year.”

 

 

Road to victory at The Plantation Course

 

2018 Dustin Johnson R1: 4th, R2: 3rd, R3: 1st

2017 Justin Thomas – R1: 2nd, R2: 1st, R3: 1st

2016 Jordan Spieth – R1: 2nd, R2: 1st, R3: 1st

2015 Patrick Reed – R1: 3rd, R2: 5th, R3: 3rd

2014 Zach Johnson – R1: 5th, R2: 1st, R3: 4th

 

Notes: Getting off to a fast start has been imperative at The Plantation Course. The last eight champions were all in the top five after the opening lap and every winner since 2007 has started with a round in the 60s.

 

 

Fate of the 18-hole leaders at the Sentry TOC – where did they finish?

 

2018 Marc Leishman – 7th

2017 Jimmy Walker – 9th

2016 Patrick Reed – 2nd

2015 Russell Henley – 3rd

2014 Chris Kirk – 16th, Webb Simpson – 3rd, Jordan Spieth – 2nd, Michael Thompson – 16th

 

Notes: Dustin Johnson in 2013 was the last first-round leader to go on and claim the title although that event was reduced to 54 holes. Prior to that, Jonathan Byrd led after 18 and 72 holes in 2011.

 

 

Focus on – Kevin Tway

 

The fairly modest record of R1 leaders doesn’t bode well for Tway although a bigger concern could be his health. “I played a few holes in the pro-am yesterday and then hole 5 it kind of felt like I was walking on a water bed the whole hole and so I withdrew, went to the doctor, had like an ear infection and sinus infection. So got some pills and feel a little bit better today but still a little dizzy.” Masking an illness for a day is common but over 72 holes, perhaps less so. Tway has managed just one previous lead on the PGA Tour after again opening with a 66 at The Northern Trust in August. How did that pan out? Not good. He ended T56. Health and history suggest he has a battle on his hands although the windy forecast at least helps him. Adding in today’s score, Tway has shot 71 or lower in the last five rounds he’s played in winds over 20mph.

 

Focus on – Marc Leishman

 

The five wins collected by Stuart Appleby and Geoff Ogilvy in this event from 2004 to 2010 means Aussies are always on the radar. One theory is that they have some extra sharpness having played in the big Aussie Triple Crown events the previous month. Another is that they play well in wind. Leishman ticked both these boxes coming in having finished runner-up in the Australian PGA Championship at the start of December and, following his R1 68, gave this answer when asked about his prep: “I was in Australia for a couple of weeks. So normally I would not touch a club, but back where I grew up I love going back and playing there so I probably played more this off season than I have in any off season since I’ve been on Tour. Definitely motivated here and for next week.” Leishman was T5 at the 2014 Sony Open and has a perfect 9-for-9 at slate at Waialae with seven finishes of T28 or better so he’s certainly one to keep an eye on for the rest of this week and next.



Dave Tindall is former golf editor at Sky Sports.com in the UK and has been writing betting previews for the European Tour since 1997. He can be reached via e-mail on tindall_david@hotmail.com and on Twitter @davetindallgolf.
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