January 08, 2016: Jordan Spieth expressed his hope that 2015 does not end at all. It appears that his wishes after all might yet be fulfilled. Spieth began 2016 with a fluent 66 on the Plantation course in Kapalua, Hawaii. But defending champion, Patrick Reed, paired with the world No.1 also kept his eyes firmly on the title. He coasted to a fine 65 to earn a one shot lead over the rampant Texan.
The two players were neck and neck through the day, before Reed pulled away with a spectacular eagle at the 18th hole to take his score to 8-under through 18 holes. Incidentally, both gentlemen made eagles on three of the par-5 holes in the first round.
“It’s another event in the course of my career,” said Spieth, underlining his keen desire to keep his good run intact. “The calendar changed.”
Despite six top 10 finishes last season, Reed is yet to win again since taking the title in Hawaii last year. He is paired with Spieth again for Friday and it will take another massive effort from Reed to stay ahead of his prolific partner.
There is a logjam at the top of the leaderboard and only that eagle at 18 helped Reed take solitary charge, after spending much of the day tied or thereabouts with five other players. Reed piloted to the front of the green with a 3-wood from over 300 yards and saw the ball caress the green till it came to a halt 15 feet from the flag.
“I didn’t think I could get it all the way to the green,” Reed said. “I thought if I smoked it, I’d get to the front edge and it just happened to ride the wind a little bit and kind of just kept on going. And once it gets on that green, I know it’s going to just keep feeding.”
His battle with cold not withstanding, Brandt Snedeker shot 67 and his effort was matched by JB Holmes and the promising Danny Lee.
Jason Day has collected some rust since his mighty exploits helped him finish the past season on a high. Playing after a three month break, Day had reason to be disappointed with his meagre return of 70 on a day when conditions were ideal for scoring.
The Aussie still has an outside chance of taking over as the world No.1 this week, but he will have to produce some spectacular golf through the remaining three days to snatch it away from an unrelenting Spieth
Another man with cause for disappointment was Dustin Johnson. He was in the company of just a handful of golfers to have failed to break par on Thursday. 25 of the 32 men in the field slipped through in less than the 73 shots it takes to stay even with the course in Kapalua.
It took a birdie at the 18th for Johnson to stay even with the course and he will hope for an improved performance when they return to play the second round on Friday.