Defending champ Thomas, local boys ready for Sony Open

Justin Thomas

The 2018 Sony Open in Hawaii tees off Thursday morning at Waialae Country Club on Oahu’s south shore.

Headlining the event is 2017 champion Justin Thomas, who used last year’s PGA Tour 72-hole record breaking win of 253 strokes at Waialae to propel himself to the 2017 FedEx Cup championship and player of the year award.

“It was a new way of winning for me. Thomas said.

“It was playing with that big of a lead, just having the opportunity to break records like this. It really was just kind of a week of almost being unconscious.”

Thomas, an Alabama alumnus, said Wednesday that he’s excited to play on the home turf of recently crowned Crismson Tide football legend Tua Tagovailoa.

“Yeah I’ve told a lot of people this week I’m feeling the vibes from him in Honolulu. He’s from only a couple of miles from here and it was unbelievable. I called coach Saban to leave him a voicemail yesterday and he actually answered which I couldn’t believe. So I was actually shocked to get to talk to him but I just told him. It was unbelievable.”

When asked if he wanted to take his turn at pronouncing Tagovailoa, Thomas humbly declined.

“I stop at Tua.” He chuckled.

Three of Hawaii’s own have earned spots in the tournament. Moanalua high school graduates Tyler Ota and John Oda will hit the teebox tomorrow with Oda at 8:40 am and Ota at 1:30 pm.

On the 10th teebox at 8:40 Kihei’s Eric Dougas will make his Sony Open debut.

“I’m just very thankful to be out here to play in what I call my home event.” Oda said.

“So I’m just looking forward to the opportunity and doing the best that I can. I think just beginning the year off right. Last year I Monday’d in and here I am exactly a year from last year so they’re just kind of got me going and I had a great spring season at UNLV. My last nine events I think I finished top 10 in every one including nationals. Same first team All-American and played the US Open and transitioned to pro golf and did well and here I am.”

Ota, who is making his Sony Open debut, is focused on being mentally prepared to shut out distractions.

“I call it unnecessary pressure.” Ota said.

“Just try my best to make it feel like any other tournament. At the end of the day it’s still golf. Just put the ball in the hole as quick as I can. Shoot the best score that I can. Just relax and enjoy the time that I have here. Hopefully I make the cut and get to the weekend that would be awesome.”

For ticket information and tee times, click here. 


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