Johnson starts well in Hawaii

12 January 2018 04:53:18 EST

Zach Johnson fired a seven-under-par 63 to share the first-round lead with fellow American Chris Kirk at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Hawaii.

The two-time major champion had been ill in the build-up after suffering from flu but showed no signs of that as he fired seven birdies and 11 pars in his opener at Waialae.

"I was not right getting on the plane to come here. I am one that likes to prepare," Johnson said.

"I got here Friday, and I touched a golf club Saturday through Wednesday. Saturday was awful. It was about a three-hour session. It was at least two hours too many because I was not right. My legs were shot and my back hurt."

However, Johnson is a former winner of this event and has posted top 10s in three of his last four visits. That extra comfort level was definitely in play on Thursday.

"It just fits my game. This is a course that you've just got to keep it in front of you," he said later.

"I'm familiar with the greens. I like a good Bermuda like this. You have to hit it straight. I mean, if you hit it in the rough, it's just hard to control shots, and it's hard to get it close.

"It's one of my favourite weeks. I love the golf course. It's one of those old hidden gems, as far as I'm concerned."

Johnson and Kirk lead by a shot from Brian Harman, Kyle Stanley, Vaughn Taylor and Talor Gooch.

Defending champion Justin Thomas is four back after a three-under 67, while Jordan Spieth had to settle for a one-under 69 after carding a quadruple bogey on the eighth.

Johnson is 1000/1 to win the Sony Open, with Harman 500/1, Thomas 1000/1, Spieth 400/1 and Kirk 500/1.

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