January 11, 2015 / 12:42 AM / 4 years ago

Holder Johnson in four-way tie at top in Hawaii

KAPALUA, Hawaii (Reuters) - Defending champion Zach Johnson was among four players tied for the lead after an ideal day for low scoring in the second round of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions on Saturday.

U.S. Ryder Cup player Zach Johnson hits out of a bunker on the ninth hole during practice ahead of the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in Scotland September 25, 2014. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

Johnson, who clinched last year’s title by one shot, fired a six-under-par 67 on the hilly Plantation Course at Kapalua Resort to finish level with fellow Americans Jimmy Walker (68) and Russell Henley (70), and South Korea’s Bae Sang-moon (69).

“I played solid, have given myself a number of opportunities,” Johnson told reporters after hitting every green in regulation and mixing seven birdies with a sole bogey. “I am putting well.

“I feel good about how I go around this golf course, what I hit off the tee boxes, where the pins are, and knowing how to attack and knowing when to lay off.”

Walker, a three-times winner on the 2013-14 PGA Tour, was the only player in the elite field of 34 to get to 12 under for the tournament but he bogeyed the par-four 17th on the way to an 11-under total of 135 on the Hawaiian island of Maui.

“I played good all day,” Walker, 35, said after racking up six birdies and one bogey. “Hit some really good shots, flighted the ball good and made some good putts.

“It was pretty solid all around all day. Would have liked to have birdied 18, but that’s the way it goes.”

Walker briefly held a two-stroke advantage and was the first player to reach 11 under after hitting an exquisite approach to four feet at the 10th and knocking in the birdie putt.

A two-putt birdie at the par-five 15th put him one stroke clear at 12 under but he bogeyed 17 after hitting his second shot, from the middle of the fairway, short of the green and narrowly missed a five-foot birdie putt at the last.

Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama birdied five of the last nine holes for a 66 to share fifth place at 10 under with Americans Charley Hoffman (66), Brandon Todd (67), Patrick Reed (69) and Robert Streb (69).

Masters champion and world number four Bubba Watson, the highest-ranked player in the field, was four strokes off the pace after carding a 69.

Six players held at least a share of the lead in the second round of the opening PGA Tour event of the year, the eighth of the wrap-around season for 2014-15.

Editing by Gene Cherry/John O'Brien

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