(Reuters) - Ryan Moore and Justin Thomas inspired one another in a low-scoring pairing as they moved one stroke clear of a tightly bunched leaderboard in the second round of the SBS Tournament of Champions in Hawaii on Friday.
The two Americans fired matching six-under-par 67s at the Kapalua Resort on the island of Maui to post 12-under totals of 134 in the PGA Tour’s opening event of the year.
Overnight leader Jimmy Walker carded a 70 to sit one shot back, level with fellow American Patrick Reed, who fired a best-of-the-day 65 that was built on a consummate driving display.
Defending champion Jordan Spieth piled up nine birdies, along with a double-bogey at the eighth and a triple at the 17th, en route to a 69 that left him joint 19th in the elite 32-man, winners-only field.
Moore, a five-times winner on the PGA Tour, very nearly holed out with his third from 80 yards at the par-five last before tapping in for a birdie to snatch the outright lead.
Moments later, Thomas rolled in a seven-footer to join him at 12 under.
“We had a good time out there,” Thomas told Golf Channel. “We were kind of feeding off each other a little bit.”
Moore finished with a flourish, recording four birdies in his last five holes.
“I just made putts, hit a couple of nice wedges that were tap-ins which was nice, but I got the putter rolling on the back side,” said the 34-year-old from Washington state.
“I burned a lot of edges (with the putter) yesterday and in the early part of my round today, so it was nice to see them start going in.”
Reed, who beat Walker in a playoff to win the title at Kapalua two years ago, reached every green in regulation for the first time in his PGA Tour career and birdied four of the last five holes to set the early clubhouse lead.
”I swung within myself so I could have control and that just led me to having a lot shorter putts on the holes,“ said Reed. ”The most impressive thing for me today was the driver.
“I was able to really have control of the driver, I could hit it anywhere I wanted to and when I feel like I have confidence in hitting my driver straight, then it just leads to the rest of the bag.”
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in St. Augustine, Florida; Editing by Peter Rutherford