Golf: Red-hot Justin Thomas, 23, youngest to join elite 59 club after fine round at Sony Open

Justin Thomas of the United States plays his shot from the 15th tee during the first round of the Sony Open In Hawaii at Waialae Country Club on Jan 12, 2017 in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Justin Thomas of the United States plays his shot from the 15th tee during the first round of the Sony Open In Hawaii at Waialae Country Club on Jan 12, 2017 in Honolulu, Hawaii.PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Justin Thomas eagled his final hole to card a rare 59 in the first round of the Sony Open in Hawaii on Thursday.

Thomas, who notched his third PGA Tour title in the Tournament of Champions at Kapalua on Sunday, rolled in a 15-foot eagle putt at Waialae's Country Club's ninth hole to finish the first round on the par-70 layout at 11-under.

The 23-year-old American became the seventh player - and the youngest - to post a sub-60 round on the US Tour.

"It was obviously a fun day," said Thomas, whose spectacular effort gave him an early five-shot lead in the opening round of the Tour's first full-field event of 2017.

He finished the day with a three-shot lead over American Hudson Swafford, who had nine birdies in an eight-under 62.

South Africa's Rory Sabbatini had six birdies and an eagle in his seven-under 63.

Scotland's Russell Knox and Australian Cameron Smith were among eight players sharing fourth on 64.

"I just kind of had it rolling out there," Thomas said. "All my birdies were easy - it wasn't like I made any long putts or anything."

But he was not blind to the significance of the number. "We all know it's the magical number in golf," he said.

Most recently, Jim Furyk carded a record 58 at the Travelers Championship in Connecticut in August.

Furyk also has a 59 on his tour resume, as does Al Geiberger, Chip Beck, David Duval, Paul Goydos and Australian Stuart Appleby.