The Justin Thomas winning trickle is turning into an avalanche.

Jordan Spieth’s close friend has emerged from the two-time major winner’s shadow to capture both US PGA Tour events in Hawaii this year for a fourth US Tour victory and third since October.

Thomas demolished the field to win the Sony Open in Hawaii by seven shots at 27-under. He opened the week with just the seventh sub-60 round in tour history to build a three-shot lead, which swelled to five strokes at the midpoint, seven after 54 holes and remained at that margin by the conclusion. Justin Rose won the compact race for second place by shooting 64 to reach 20-under, one ahead of Spieth.

Along the way Thomas became, at 23, the youngest 59-shooter in US Tour history and posted the circuit’s lowest-ever first 36 holes (123) while equalling the record for 54 holes (188) and setting the new 72-hole standard (253). He assumes top spot from Hideki Matsuyama on both the FedEx Cup points list and moneylist, while becoming the first player since Ernie Els in 2003 to capture both Hawaiian tournaments.

“It felt like we were playing a different tournament,” Spieth said. “I honestly felt like I was trying to win the tournament for second place.”

Indeed, the first nine events of the 2016-2017 season have seen the awakening of Justin Thomas. The Kentuckian, who along with Spieth, Daniel Berger, Emiliano Grillo, Smylie Kaufman and co., is part of the much-vaunted high school class of 2011 now squeezing trophies and dollars from the US PGA Tour.

Thomas might have been comparatively late to find his competitive mojo but he stands to be the most damaging, perhaps more so than even Spieth. The prospects for his future are downright ominous.

“I just feel like I’m learning different ways to win,” Thomas said the day before the Sony began. “It’s different each time and it’s hard each time. But I’ve been fortunate enough that each time it’s been different, and I feel like I’ve found a way to handle it.”

He certainly handled Waialae Country Club. The Honolulu layout used to be one of the circuit’s tougher stops. Narrow fairways, a dearth of par-5s and ever-present Hawaiian breezes presented a difficult test so early in the season. But ever since Russell Henley reached 24-under in winning four years ago, the par-70 course has become vulnerable – no more so than it was this week.

Thomas’ 59 began and ended with eagles, while Kevin Kisner came within inches of matching that figure with his third-round 60. On Sunday, Chez Reavie teed off from the 10th hole and covered the back nine in 28 strokes that included an ace at the 17th. His high-tide mark was nine-under after 12 holes before a run of pars sandwiching a bogey quashed his momentum. Reavie signed for a 61.

But the tour departed paradise with one name emanating from the Islands of Aloha. Thomas was mostly untroubled over the weekend, sucking the drama out of the Sony Open in a manner that was decidedly Woodsian. And you get the feeling he’s only just waking up.



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