Keegan Bradley and Sebastian Cappelen share the Farmers Insurance Open lead as Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods made decent starts on Thursday.

Bradley and Cappelen opened with six-under 66s at Torrey Pines, sharing a one-stroke lead on what is a congested leaderboard in San Diego.

A bogey-free opening round on the North Course set up 2011 US PGA Championship winner Bradley, who made an eagle at the par-five fifth.

Denmark's Cappelen produced his round on the South Course, mixing eight birdies with two bogeys.

Plenty of eyes were on McIlroy and Woods, who made fine starts, with the Northern Irishman particularly impressive.

McIlroy carded a five-under 67 on the North Course in a round featuring seven birdies and two bogeys.

He is in an eight-way tie for third, alongside Byeong Hun An, Joel Dahmen, Kevin Tway, Zhang Xinjun, Matthew NeSmith, Im Sung-jae and 2011 winner Bubba Watson.

A seven-time champion of the event, Woods fired a three-under 69 to be tied for 21st.

Woods made two birdies and two bogeys on his front nine before picking up shots at the first, fifth and ninth.

Jon Rahm, the 2017 winner, is among a group of 10 tied for 11th at four under, with J.B. Holmes alongside him.

Defending champion Justin Rose struggled on the South Course, shooting a three-over 75.

Jordan Spieth, meanwhile, made a solid if unspectacular start with an opening-round 70 that included five birdies.

Tiger Woods fired a three-under-par 69 in his opening round of the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines.

Woods, seeking a record 83rd victory on the PGA tour on a course where he has lifted eight titles previously, carded five birdies in a promising start in San Diego.

The 44-year-old was three off the lead of six under set by Sebastian Cappelen.

Woods, who started on the back nine, recovered from a bogey on the 11th to claim birdies on the 13th and the par-five 17th but dropped another shot to make the turn at level par.

He closed out the round with three more birdies and only missed out on an eagle at the fifth after a 20-foot putt missed to the left.

"Overall, I'm pleased," he said afterwards. "I feel like I drove a little better today.

"My start lines were a little bit tighter, which was nice. I missed competing, so I was just trying to keep everything as calm as I possibly could."

Tiger Woods says he does not give any thought to winning a record 83rd PGA Tour title as he prepares to tee off for the first time this year in the Farmers Insurance Open.

Woods matched Sam Snead's haul of 82 titles by winning the Zozo Championship last October.

All eyes will be on the 15-time major champion when he starts his bid to better that tally at Torrey Pines on Thursday, but Woods says the prospect of making history has not been playing on his mind.

"That number, just trying to get to 83, I really don't think about it," Woods told the media on Tuesday.

"Because I still have to think about all the things I need to do to win the golf tournament. There's so many different shots I have to play. Strategy, thinking my way around the golf course. I'm more consumed in that."

The legendary American ended an 11-year major drought at the Masters last year and says he is merely happy to be in a position to challenge for further honours rather than being driven to hunt down Jack Nicklaus's record total of 18.

"Even to get to the number I'm at right now, 15, is a lot," the 44-year-old added.

"Not too many guys who are around have seen that kind of number before. It's just going to take time. It took Jack about 26 years to get to his number, it's taken me 20-odd years to get to my mine.

"It just takes time to accumulate wins. There were a number of years where I didn't play so there were some missed opportunities. But I'm playing again now so these are blessed opportunities and I didn't think I'd have these."

Woods has won the Farmers Insurance Open seven times, most recently in 2013.

Jack Nicklaus had his life mapped out by the end of 1959.

Proposing to his girlfriend, nursing student and fellow Ohio State undergraduate Barbara Bash, over Christmas, the 19-year-old Nicklaus saw a clear vision of the future.

He would be, if all went to plan, a mighty fine golfer but an even better insurance salesman.

The teenage years had treated Nicklaus well. He acquired the golfing fundamentals under Jack Grout's instruction at Scioto Country Club and became a serial amateur champion, all while demonstrating diligence in his studies and a precocious talent for earning big bucks.

The idea was that he and Barbara would settle down, live a life of contentment together and want for nothing, and Jack would always have his golf. The American dream.

Never mind winning a record 18 majors; merely playing in that many was still fanciful.

Nicklaus, who turns 80 this week, was a college kid with a winning golf game, a head for figures and an effortless, neighbourly charm. Some combination.

Today he is one of the greatest and wealthiest sports stars in history.

This is the story of the 1960 U.S. Open, and how a day in Ben Hogan's company changed young Jack's life.

 

INSURANCE THE BEST POLICY?

Already the U.S. Amateur champion at the dawn of the sixties, Nicklaus realised he had a serious talent that could worry the best professionals, but was there sufficient financial incentive to go into golf full-time?

He was not so sure. Insurance paid well, and a new decade promised new money-making opportunities.

"I had probably three jobs that I was working at the same time," Nicklaus recalled.

"I was working for Ohio State Life Insurance Company, I was working for Parker and Co, which is a brokerage firm out of New York, and I was actually working for a slack company. As I travelled I did some slack promotion, well within amateur regulations.

"I was making close to about $30,000 a year. That's pretty good for a 20‑year‑old. Pretty darned good back in 1960. And I thought about playing the Tour, [but] you had to be probably in the top five to be making $30,000 a year."

Nicklaus had played on a winning Walker Cup team at Muirfield and was voted the world's leading amateur by Golf Digest magazine before turning 20. 

THE WEEK WHEN EVERYTHING CHANGED

Nicklaus' golf life was transformed at the 1960 U.S. Open, specifically on the Saturday, the closing day of the tournament, when the youngster, still devoted to the unpaid ranks, was paired with the great Ben Hogan for the final 36 holes.

Over back-to-back circuits of the Cherry Hills course, set within a luxury country club in Denver's suburbs, Nicklaus later admitted: "I learned how to play golf."

Dad Charlie broke the news to young Jack that he would be playing alongside the 47-year-old Hogan, a nine-time major champion.

"It's in my personal scrapbook when my dad came in and said, 'Guess who you're playing the last two rounds with'," Nicklaus said.

"He says, 'Hogan'. It was like, you know, I'm going to get a chance to play with Ben Hogan."

Wherever Nicklaus goes today, there is a clamour for stories about his early days.

Put him in a media room and a half hour of wisdom and delicious anecdotes will spill out. Pure manna for golf reporters.

The 1960 U.S. Open has been raked over as often as the Cherry Hills bunkers. Nicklaus does not seem to mind. He knows its relevance, enjoys the reverance.

A COLLISION OF GREATS - PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE

Nicklaus, Hogan and Masters champion Arnold Palmer were firmly in the U.S. Open title mix that year, a coming together of generations old and new, with Palmer surging into title contention after a surge of six birdies in his first seven holes of that final round. Palmer had ominously driven the green at the par-four first.

Nicklaus, despite his amateur status, nevertheless led as he reached the turn.

Put succinctly, Nicklaus' putter went stone cold and he fluffed that chance of glory, while playing partner Hogan blew up on the 35th and 36th holes of the day, a bogey and a triple from the veteran handing victory to Palmer, whose six-under-par 65 took him from seven shots back at the start of the round to first place, four under for the tournament.

While Nicklaus placed second, Hogan trailed home tied for ninth, cursing his costly drive into water at the last. Nicklaus, however, was tracking his playing partner's every shot.

"The first time he missed a green was the 35th hole we played," Nicklaus said. "He hit the ball in the fairway, he managed his game. He played little hooks, little slices, little short slots and he played conservative shots. And he made some putts and missed a lot putts. Hogan stood over a putt for about an hour in those days.

"They talk about all the putts he missed but he holed a ton of putts. He was my kind of guy to play with. We walked down the fairway; pleasantries. When you hit a good shot, if he said it was a good shot, you knew darned well it was a good shot.

"And if you didn't hit a good shot, you weren't expecting to hear anything, which you didn't."

"IF HE HAD A BRAIN IN HIS HEAD..."

Nicklaus has often quibbled with a quote attributed to Hogan from Cherry Hills, with Hogan said to have told US sports writer Dan Jenkins: "I played with a kid today who would have won by 10 strokes if he knew what he was doing."

A conversation with Jenkins, who died last year, set the record straight for Nicklaus - if not entirely favourably for golf's future 'Golden Bear'.

According to Nicklaus, Jenkins revealed how Hogan actually said he partnered a player "who if he had a brain in his head, would have won by 10 strokes".

Nicklaus offers a similarly self-flagellating take of what happened over those closing holes, as the winning line came into view.

"I blew it," he said. "I had the tournament reasonably well in hand if I had known how to play.

"I remember walking off the 12th green. I looked at the leaderboard, and there was one 5 on the board [indicating a score of five under par] and that was me.

"I three-putted 13, 14. And after I look at the leaderboard, 'Nice going, Jack'. Then I miss a three-footer at 16, and about an eight-footer at 17 and bogey 18 to lose that golf tournament. That's a pretty poor finish. You learn from that."

Nicklaus conceded he "didn't know how to win at 20 years old, not against the guys". That changed soon enough.

"THE BEST THING THAT EVER HAPPENED TO ME"

Marrying Barbara a month after his Cherry Hills exploits, Nicklaus remained in the amateur ranks, making his money in the 'real world'.

Eventually, having landed his second U.S. Amateur title, he turned professional in November 1961.

"I decided I really didn't care about being the best insurance salesman," Nicklaus said. "I really wanted to be a guy who could be the best at playing golf.

"And the only way to do that is to play against the best. And so that was why I turned pro."

There was no standing on ceremony either once that status was acquired.

His maiden major triumph came when Oakmont hosted the U.S. Open in 1962, beating Palmer in a play-off. The Masters and US PGA titles followed in 1963, and by 1964, Nicklaus was the leading money-winner on the PGA Tour, trouncing what he might have earned with a sharp suit, fedora and briefcase.

Nicklaus will be forever associated with Cherry Hills, and the tournament where he "proceeded to fall apart like a three-dollar suitcase".

Now that he has turned 80, with Hogan long gone and Palmer having passed on to life's 19th hole more than three years ago, it falls to Nicklaus to recount the stories of yesteryear.

All being even, he has not told his last tale of Cherry Hills. This story is assembled from hour after hour of Nicklaus reminiscing with golf's press pack.

"I look back on it, and I say, you know, I would have loved to have won that tournament," Nicklaus said. "But maybe the best thing that ever happened to me was the learning experience that I had from it.

"Did it destroy my life? No. I learned from it. I put what I learned there to use. Did I do it again? Sure. But did I do it to the same degree? No."

THROW A RIGHT ONCE YOU CAN SMELL MONEY

Leaving Denver today on Interstate 25 - the Valley Highway - you can leave the five-lane carriageway by Veterans Park and begin the South University Boulevard approach to Cherry Hills Country Club.

An urban, gridded landscape - studentville around the University of Denver, block after block of modern apartments, a Wendy's burger joint - gives way after a couple of miles to a greener, tree-lined avenue, and a sprawl of gated communities, a millionaire's paradise.

Peyton Manning reputedly calls this home. David Duval has lived in a mansion practically overlooking the course.

Once you can positively smell money, throwing a right turn at a barely conspicuous but traffic-lighted junction reveals the country club, its mock-tudor clubhouse soon coming into view.

Behind that members' sanctuary, its eight tennis courts and a huge swimming pool, lies a golf course steeped in history.

This is not the course that Jack built - even though today there are over 400 Nicklaus-designed courses across the world.

But it is where the Nicklaus legend was born, perhaps the key stepping stone towards insurance's temporary claim becoming golf's greatest fixed asset.

Jack Nicklaus, the most prolific winner of major championships in golf, celebrates his 80th birthday on Tuesday.

To mark the occasion, here are 18 facts about the Golden Bear, one for each of his major victories.

 

- Despite his unmatched success at the highest level, Nicklaus only defended a major title on one occasion, at the 1966 Masters.

- Before turning professional, Nicklaus won two U.S. Amateur titles in 1959 and 1961. The second of those wins saw him thrash Dudley Wysong 8 and 6.

- He is one of only two players, together with Tiger Woods, to have completed the triple career grand slam by winning all four majors at least three times. Nicklaus achieved the feat in 1978, claiming his third Open title at St Andrews. Woods followed suit 30 years later with his third U.S. Open win.

- Nicklaus' final appearances at each of the four majors coincided with victories for Woods - at the 2000 U.S. Open, 2000 US PGA Championship, 2005 Masters and 2005 Open.

- There were five years - across three decades - in which Nicklaus claimed two major wins: 1963, 1966, 1972, 1975 and 1980.

- Nicklaus' memorable Masters victory in 1986 was his sixth, the most of any player. He played the back nine in six under par as he become the oldest winner of the tournament at 46.

- The most successful seasons of Nicklaus' career - in terms of PGA Tour wins - came in 1972 and 1973. He won seven tournaments in both of those years.

- The Golden Bear held sole possession of the 54-hole lead at a major on eight occasions and went on to seal victory every time.

- His record margin of victory at a major was achieved at the 1965 Masters, a tournament he won by nine strokes. Gary Player and Arnold Palmer were joint second, with the trio having shared the lead after 36 holes. Nicklaus' nine-shot victory was a record triumph at Augusta until Woods won by 12 in 1997.

- Nicklaus holds the record for the most top-10 finishes at every major, recording 22 top-10s at the Masters, 18 at the U.S. Open, 18 at The Open and 15 at the US PGA. His overall tally of 73 major top-10s puts him well clear of nearest rivals Sam Snead (48) and Tom Watson (46). Woods has 41 to date.

- The last PGA Tour cheque of Nicklaus' illustrious career earned him $11,130, when he finished in a tie for 63rd at the 2004 edition of the Memorial Tournament, aged 64.

- A teenage Nicklaus finished 12th on his PGA Tour debut, at the 1958 Rubber City Open. He was only one off the lead after 36 holes.

- In an stunning run from the 1973 Masters to the 1976 Masters, Nicklaus recorded top-10 finishes at 13 successive majors. Hogan holds the record with 18.

- Nicklaus was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 2014 - the highest civilian honour available in the United States. He became only the seventh athlete to receive the honour and the third golfer after Byron Nelson and Palmer.

- When Nicklaus won The Open for the fourth and final time in 1980, it represented his 15th consecutive top-six finish at the event. That remarkable streak featured three of his four wins and six of his seven runner-up finishes.

- Nicklaus won the 1956 Ohio Open as a 16-year-old amateur, beating a host of professional players. He credited the win to Snead, having played an exhibition with the golfing great after round one of the tournament.

- In 17 consecutive seasons from 1962 to 1978, Nicklaus won at least two events on the PGA Tour. He also finished in the top four in the money list in each of these seasons.

- Last but not least, Nicklaus' haul of 18 majors remains the benchmark. Woods claimed his 15th, after an 11-year barren spell, at last year's Masters, but still has lots of work to do to catch Jack.

Andrew Landry held his nerve at the critical moment to claim a second PGA Tour title at The American Express on Sunday.

The 2018 Texas Open champion birdied the final two holes to salvage a five-under 67 in the fourth round and finish two shots ahead of Abraham Ancer (63) in California.

Landry began the fourth round level in a tie for first with Scottie Scheffler and initially looked set to cruise clear of the chasing pack as his compatriot stumbled through the opening six holes.

Three successive bogeys beginning at the 13th allowed the surging Ancer to erase a six-shot deficit, but Landry resisted the challenge after making par at the 16th.

He converted two excellent tee shots into a pair of birdies to close out the tournament at 24 under.

The win will help to erase Landry's memories of his playoff defeat against Jon Rahm on the Stadium Course at PGA West two years ago.

The 32-year-old told reporters: "I had good swing thoughts coming down the stretch. Just got the job done.

"I mean, I think the biggest shot of the tournament was the one on 17."

Scheffler (70) finished a stroke behind Ancer, while Bud Cauley (65) and Sepp Straka (66) shared a tie for fourth.

Another American, Rickie Fowler, finished in a four-way tie for 10th after following his third-round 70 with a disappointing one-under 71.

Andrew Landry and Scottie Scheffler ended the third round tied for the lead at The American Express.

Landry and countryman Scheffler are four strokes clear atop the leaderboard after Saturday's penultimate round.

A one-time winner on the PGA Tour, Landry climbed two positions thanks to his seven-under-par 65 in California.

Landry – playing the Nicklaus Tournament Course at PGA West – made a red-hot start with six birdies from his opening nine holes, including four in a row from the 14th.

Scheffler, who was tied for the 36-hole lead alongside Rickie Fowler, stayed top thanks to his six-under-par 66.

On the Stadium Course, Scheffler was bogey-free with six birdies throughout day three.

American star Fowler dropped down to third following his two-under-par 70, which included four birdies and two bogeys.

Ryan Moore (67) and Chase Seiffert (67) are a stroke further back at 16 under through 54 holes, a shot ahead of Andrew Putnam (65), Abraham Ancer (66) and Sebastian Cappelen (64).

Rickie Fowler moved into a share of the lead at The American Express after shooting an eight-under 64 in the second round on Friday.

The American backed up his opening-round 65 with a stellar showing, this time at the Nicklaus Tournament Course at PGA West in California.

Fowler produced a bogey-free round that included an eagle and six birdies as he climbed into 15 under.

He is joined atop the leaderboard by Scottie Scheffler, who shot a 64 on the same course to be alongside Fowler with a one-stroke lead.

Fowler made back-to-back birdies on holes 11 and 12 before delivering a strong finish, including the eagle at the par-five fourth – where a wonderful second shot set up a short putt.

Andrew Landry carded an eight-under 64 at La Quinta Country Club to be outright third at 14 under.

The round of the day belonged to Tony Finau, who carded a stunning 10-under 62 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course.

Finau was three under through his first nine holes before birdieing seven of his last nine to be outright fourth at 13 under.

Bud Cauley (64) is at 12 under, a shot ahead of Ted Potter Jr. (63), Im Sung-jae (66), Ryan Moore (65), Cameron Davis (67), Wes Roach (65) and Chase Seiffert (67).

Adam Long, last year's winner when the tournament was called the Desert Classic, is back at five under and tied for 68th.

Phil Mickelson has struggled to get going and sits in a tie for 110th at two under after rounds of 70 and 72.

Rickie Fowler made a bright start to The American Express, sitting a stroke behind leaders Zac Blair and Grayson Murray after the opening round on Thursday.

Fowler carded a seven-under 65 at La Quinta Country Club at the PGA Tour event, which is played on three different courses in California.

The American, who started his 2020 by finishing tied for fifth at the Tournament of Champions, set up his round with a run of five straight birdies beginning at the fifth.

Fowler picked up shots at 11 and 13 before a bogey at the par-four 14th, but he managed another birdie at the last.

Blair and Murray fired eight-under 64s at La Quinta and the Stadium Course at PGA West respectively.

Hank Lebioda (65 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course at PGA West) and Scottie Scheffler (65 at La Quinta) are alongside Fowler in a tie for third.

It is a hugely congested leaderboard, with Andrew Landry, Tyler Duncan, Adam Schenk, Tom Hoge, Russell Knox, Roger Sloan, Chase Seiffert and Cameron Davis at six under.

Davis, the 24-year-old Australian, is coming off a top-10 finish at the Sony Open in Hawaii.

Adam Long, last year's winner when the event was called the Desert Classic, is tied for 49th at three under.

Tony Finau also opened with a 69, while Phil Mickelson is a shot further back in a tie for 74th.

Bryson DeChambeau came for Brooks Koepka's abs and the world number one did not let him get away unscathed.

Koepka is regarded as the most muscular player in golf but DeChambeau, a five-time winner on the PGA Tour, aimed a dig at his physique, which was laid bare in ESPN magazine's Body Issue last year.

DeChambeau, a Southern Methodist University graduate majoring in physics, has been working with a muscle activation specialist and spoken of his desire to become "massive".

When asked about Koepka's conditioning on his Twitch stream, DeChambeau said: "I don't know if his genetics even make him look good, to be honest. I mean [in] the Body Issue he didn't have any abs, I'll tell you that. I got some abs."

Unsurprisingly it did not take too long for the four-time major champion to fire back with a stinging barb.

Alongside a photo of the trophies from his triumphs at two US PGA Championships and two U.S. Opens uploaded to Twitter, he wrote: "You were right @b_dechambeau I am 2 short of a 6 pack!"

DeChambeau's best performance at a major was coming tied-15th at the 2016 U.S. Open.

English golfer Eddie Pepperell was impressed by Koepka's comeback and summed up the exchange nicely.

"This is why you just don't go after the No.1 golfer in the world. Christ," world number 55 Pepperell tweeted.

Brooks Koepka feels everyone in golf will benefit if Tiger Woods can stay fit for the duration of 2020.

Other than his PGA Tour record-equalling 82nd win at the Zozo Championship in Japan, which arrived in October, Woods struggled for form and fitness in the aftermath of his sensational win at The Masters last year.

He had knee surgery in August after missing the cut at the US PGA Championship and The Open, as well as finishing in a tie for 21st at the U.S. Open.

Koepka, who himself suffered a serious knee injury in 2019, hopes Woods will be back to his best and knows his fellow American is still capable of achieving serious success at the age of 44.

"Hopefully his body holds up because it's good for the game, it's good for golf, it's good for everybody," Koepka said to Omnisport after being asked about Woods' prospects for this year and beyond.

"It all depends on his health, I don't know how he's feeling. I'm not in his body. But if he's healthy obviously he can win, we all know how good he is, I don't think that's in question. 

"But it all depends on his body. If he feels good he can definitely compete, he can win, there is no question."

Woods will make his return to the course at next week's Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, while Koepka will open his campaign at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship on Thursday.

That European Tour appearance will be four-time major winner Koepka's first outing since he withdrew from the CJ Cup with his knee injury in October.
 

Koepka was talking ahead of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA, where they were predicting the future of the game and how it could change over the next 10 years. They were joined by members of the HSBC Future Falcons junior golf programme - an initiative which has introduced nearly 80,000 children to golf since its launch.

Cameron Smith said every birdie "meant that little bit more" after dedicating his victory at the Sony Open to the those affected by the bushfires in Australia.

Smith defeated Brendan Steele in a play-off in Hawaii after overturning a three-shot deficit to claim his first individual title on the PGA Tour, having won the Zurich Classic alongside Jonas Blixt in 2017.

The Australian's uncle saw his home destroyed by the fires terrorising the country and Smith pledged to donate $500 for every birdie and $1,000 for every eagle he made during the event in Honolulu.

"That [victory] has been one that I've wanted to tick off for a long time," Smith said. "I've been out here four or five years now, and to finally say that I have won an event by myself is quite good.

"It's been an Aussie week. Wade [Ormsby] won over in Asia, me winning here. I just hope that just brings a little bit of joy to some people that are going through some tough times.

"I just wanted to make birdies. It was tough the first three days to make birdies and I managed to scrape in a few. Every birdie putt I had just meant that little bit more.

"Rather than kind of wanting to make it, I almost felt like I had to make it. I've always been quite good at not giving up. I've never felt the need to kind of mentally check out in any way.

"I started bogey, triple-bogey [on Thursday] and then finished that day even par and progressed from there. It was a big fight all week basically."

Smith later tweeted to say $10,500 had been raised for the relief efforts in Australia.

Cameron Smith claimed his second PGA Tour title with a play-off victory at the Sony Open in Hawaii on Sunday.

The Australian overcame Brendan Steele in a play-off at the Waialae Country Club in Honolulu for his first individual win on Tour.

Smith won the Zurich Classic of New Orleans alongside Jonas Blixt in 2017, but added a second title to his collection.

He two-putted for par at the 10th hole as Steele battled to a bogey to fall short in the play-off.

Smith carded a two-under 68 in the final round, making birdie at the last to get into the play-off as Steele struggled late.

The American – forced into a long wait at the last as players battled – had been two shots clear of Smith with two holes to play, but bogeyed the 17th on his way to a final-round 71.

Smith took his chance and recovered from a poor tee shot at the play-off hole to clinch his victory.

"I just had to hang in there. No one was playing good golf today it seemed like," he told the Golf Channel.

"The conditions got a lot easier at the end there, but just hung in there and what do you know?"

Smith added: "That's been one that I've wanted to tick off for a long time. I've been out here for four, five years now and to finally say that I've won an event by myself is quite good."

Webb Simpson (67) finished outright third at 10 under, a shot clear of Graeme McDowell (64), Ryan Palmer (68) and Kevin Kisner (69).

American golfer Brendan Steele earned a three-stroke advantage after the third round of the Sony Open in Hawaii.

Steele carded a six-under-par 64 to claim the outright lead at the Waialae Country Club in Honolulu on Saturday.

Three-time PGA Tour champion Steele and Australian Cameron Davis shared a one-shot cushion atop the leaderboard at the start of the penultimate round.

But a flawless back nine, which was capped by three consecutive birdies to close out the day, saw Steele surge ahead after Davis could only manage a third-round 71.

Steele is 12 under through 54 holes and three clear strokes of second-placed Australian Cameron Smith (66) heading into the final day.

Kevin Kisner (64) is a shot further back at eight under, while Webb Simpson (66), Collin Morikawa (68) and Ryan Palmer (68) are seven under.

Davis slumped to five under overall and a tie for 11th following a forgettable front nine that featured four bogeys in six holes.

Brendan Steele and Cameron Davis carded four-under 66s to share the Sony Open in Hawaii lead as Justin Thomas missed the cut on Friday.

American Steele and Australian Davis moved into six under at the Waialae Country Club in Honolulu after the second round.

The duo hold a one-stroke lead on what is a congested leaderboard at the halfway mark of the PGA Tour event.

A group of nine players are tied for third at five under, including Keegan Bradley (66) and Cameron Smith (65).

Smith's 65 was the equal best round of the day, also managed by Russell Knox, Bo Hoag and Rob Oppenheim as they climbed into five under.

Ryan Palmer (68), Sam Ryder (68), Rory Sabbatini (67) and overnight leader Collin Morikawa (70) are also tied for third.

Thomas, the 2017 winner coming off a success at the Tournament of Champions, failed to make the weekend.

The American followed up his opening-round 72 with a one-over 71 to end up at three over and one of several bigger names to miss the cut.

Defending champion Matt Kuchar (73) and Patrick Reed (74) fell short of getting to the weekend, while 2018 winner Patton Kizzire (74) also missed the cut.

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