Full field at the Sony Open is full of optimism

By Associated PressJanuary 14, 2009, 5:00 pm
2007 Sony OpenHONOLULU ' PGA Tour players have big dreams 10 miles up the shore from Waikiki Beach at the Sony Open, the season-opener for those who failed to win last year and are optimistic that 2009 will be different.
 
Thats particularly true for Harrison Frazar, who has another chance he wasnt sure he wanted.
 
Once considered the best player to have never won on the PGA Tour, Frazar lost his card last year for the first time since his rookie season in 1998. While playing golf with friends in Austin, Texas, he found the conversation shifting more toward their world than his.
 
I was to the point of playing golf with friends at home that are in the business community, and talking about options of moving forward, about what I could do for them, Frazar said. We were to that point.
 
It wasnt the first time.
 
Even though he was a three-time All-American at Texas, he didnt think he was good enough for the PGA Tour and took a job out of college in real estate development. It took a year before he tried pro golf, and he made it to the big leagues a few years later.
 
Now is not the best time for a 37-year-old father of three to be looking to change careers.
 
I just had to ask myself, Do I want to play golf? or just say, This is great, I enjoyed it, past part of my life, were going to move on. And I decided that for a myriad of reasons that I still want to be a golfer.
 
Frazar went back to Q-school for the first time since 1996, committed to playing on the Nationwide Tour if he didnt get his card. And that appeared to be the case when he was in the middle of the pack halfway through the 108-hole tournament. Then came a magical fourth round in the California desert when Frazar shot 59.
 
That carried him to an eight-stroke victory and a trip to Honolulu to start a new season.
 
Some old fuses were re-lit, he said. Realizing that I can play still, that its in there. Theres enough to give me hope and make me want to go back to work and try to find it.
 
He is part of the 144-man field at Waialae Country Club, the second official event of the season, and perhaps the sharpest contrast of any two weeks on the PGA Tour.
 
The Plantation course at Kapalua was carved out of a mountain, offering spectacular scenery and such severe elevation changes that there were 24 tee shots that traveled at least 400 years. Waialae is a classic course that sits on the edge of the beach, with skinny palms and peaceful vibes, and greens that are small and flat.
 
Last week was for winners only.
 
The Sony Open has 76 players who have never won a PGA Tour event. Of the 26 rookies at Waialae, 10 of them will be teeing it up in a PGA Tour event for the first time ever.
 
Tadd Fujikawa is one of two teenagers in the field, playing for the Sony Open for the third straight year. The 18-year-old senior in high school earned his spot Monday in a qualifier across the island at Turtle Bay. The other is 14-year-old Lorens Chan, who earned the exemption set aside for the top amateur in Hawaii.
 
K.J. Choi is the defending champion, winning last year by three shots despite becoming the first Sony Open winner in 41 years who failed to break par in the final round. That was a tribute to the wind, which can blow on Oahu as much as it does on Maui.
 
The field is missing Vijay Singh, who had surgery on his right knee Wednesday, but returning to Waialae is former champion Ernie Els and Adam Scott, who decided to stick around after the Mercedes last week at Kapalua.
 
So did Geoff Ogilvy, who got his season off to the perfect start with a six-shot victory at Kapalua.
 
It was his fifth victory in five years, but the 31-year-old Australian has only had one multiple-win season, that coming in 2006 when he won the Accenture Match Play Championship and the U.S. Open. Five winners at Kapalua this decade didnt win again the rest of the season.
 
Its probably just a coincidence, Ogilvy said. Might be a bit of complacency. When you get to the top of the money list after one week, you get all excited, maybe you take the rest of the year for granted. Hopefully, I can change the trend so the coincidences go away.
 
Or he could be like Els in 2003 and sweep the Hawaii events.
 
Frazar, meanwhile, would gladly settle for his first victory.
 
He is among a small group of players who have won at least $8 million without ever hoisting a trophy on the PGA Tour. Even so, any discussion about the best player to have not won on tour starts with Frazar.
 
And no, Q-school doesnt count.
 
He has teed it up 300 times on the PGA Tour and has 10 top 3s, including a runner-up finish to Els at Waialae in 2004. Brett Quigley had 334 starts without winning with four top 3s. Briny Baird has five top 3s in his 274 starts.
 
Tim Clark and Justin Rose also have $8 million and no victories, although both have won against big-league competition overseas.
 
Frazar knows the label'it doesnt get as much attention as best to have never won a major'and he takes it both ways.
 
Its a compliment because people feel like theres a lot inside of you and what youre capable of, he said. Its also a slight. Its a little jab by saying you havent done it.
 
But he gets another chance this year. And thats a start.
 

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    Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 8:57 pm

    Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.

    Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.

    South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.

    Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.

    The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

     

     

    Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout

    By Will GrayDecember 10, 2017, 8:55 pm

    It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.

    Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.

    Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.

    "We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."


    Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout


    Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.

    Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.

    Getty Images

    Wie takes shot at LPGA dress code in crop top

    By Grill Room TeamDecember 10, 2017, 5:33 pm

    The new LPGA dress code got mixed reviews when it was announced in July, and Michelle Wie is taking full advantage of her offseason with no restrictions.

    The 28-year-old former U.S. Women's Open champion is keeping her game sharp while back in her home state of Hawaii, but couldn't help taking a shot at the rules while doing it, posting a photo to Instagram of her playing golf in a crop top with the caption, "Offseason = No dress code fine."

    Offseason = No dress code fines #croptopdroptop

    A post shared by Michelle Wie (@themichellewie) on

    Wie isn't the first to voice her displeasure with the rules. Lexi Thompson posted a similar photo and caption to Instagram shortly after the policy was announced.

    Lexi, Finau 3 back going into final QBE round

    By Associated PressDecember 9, 2017, 11:58 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. - Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry shot an 8-under 64 in modified alternate shot and shared the lead Saturday with Steve Stricker and Sean O'Hair going into the final round of the QBE Shootout.

    McDowell (Northern Ireland) and Lowry (Ireland), the only international players among the 12 teams at Tiburon Golf Club, began to erase a five-shot deficit with an eagle and birdie on the opening two holes and they dropped only one shot all day in blustery conditions.

    Stricker and O'Hair started the back nine with a pair of bogeys, rallied with three straight birdies and then dropped one last shot from the bunker on the 17th.

    The teams were tied at 18-under 126.

    Lexi Thompson, the lone LPGA player in the field, teamed with Tony Finau for a 66 that put them in the hunt going into the final round. Thompson and Finau were three shots behind.

    McDowell and Lowry tied for ninth in the World Cup last year. They grew up playing Irish junior golf and appreciate the difficulty of alternate shot, even the modified version when both players hit tee shots.


    Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout


    ''To go out and shoot 8 under in that format in these conditions today, I think it speaks volumes about the fact we're both playing pretty well,'' McDowell said. ''We both had an opportunity to hit some good shots out there today and make some good putts, and it gives you a little bit of momentum going in there tomorrow.''

    The format for the final round is better ball.

    Stricker and O'Hair have each won the QBE Shootout, but not as partners.

    Stricker, captain of the winning American team at the Presidents Cup, said he couldn't get comfortable and put O'Hair in some tough spots.

    ''We should have probably been two or three shots better than what we were,'' Stricker said. ''Sean played another good round of golf and made some great putts in there to keep us going, but all in all, we're in good shape.''

    Keegan Bradley and Brendan Steele shot 70 and were two shots out of the lead.

    Defending champions Matt Kuchar and Harris English had a 72 and were tied for last place with Zach Johnson and Charley Hoffman, who shot 70. They were nine shots out of the lead.