Johnson soars at Sony Open Fujikawa falters

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2009, 5:00 pm
2007 Sony OpenHONOLULU ' Zach Johnson had a lei around his neck and a glass of champagne in his hand Sunday night as he toasted the members of Waialae after a two-shot victory in the Sony Open.
 
The worst part of Hawaii is leaving, he said to laughter and applause.
 
The best part of winning is he gets to come back.
 
Johnson closed with a 5-under 65 on Sunday to outlast David Toms in a well-played duel along the back nine, finishing with a two-putt birdie for a two-shot victory over Toms and Adam Scott.
 
I get to go back to Maui again, he said, referring to the season-opener at Kapalua for PGA Tour winners. And Oahu. Starting your year in these two destinations is pretty awesome.
Zach Johnson Sony
Zach Johnson holds the trophy after winning the Sony Open at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu (Getty Images)

His fifth career victory ' and second in his last six starts' can be traced to last week and his tie for sixth. He went 64-67 on the weekend at Kapalua, and made it 30-under par for his last six rounds with his thorough victory at Waialae.
 
Johnson began the final round with a one-shot lead and never lost it.
 
I was hoping to get a victory today, but Zach played awfully well, said Toms, who made three big putts down the stretch to keep himself in the game. Hes a good player and tough to beat.
 
Tadd Fujikawa, the 18-year-old from Honolulu trying to become the youngest winner in the PGA Tour history, started the final round two shots out of the lead, but never got any closer as he struggled to a 73 and tied for 32nd.
 
I just couldnt get anything going, said Fujikawa, who resumes his senior year in high school on Monday.
 
Johnson finished at 15-under 265, the final birdie eliminating any drama.
 
Toms, who made a 4-foot birdie putt on the 15th, and par putts from 5 feet and 12 feet on the next two holes, was one shot behind playing the par-5 18th when he tried to cut too much off the corner of the dogleg and wound up in the bunker. There was some question who was away, and it turned out to be Johnson, who hit 5-wood to the back of the green, 35 feet above the hole.
 
Toms tried to hit a hybrid, but it either caught the lip or came out heavy; either way, it traveled only about 70 yards and left him in such a tough lie in the rough that he couldnt get close for a good look at birdie.
 
Toms closed with a 66 and tied for second with Scott, who shot 64. Scott left a 10-foot birdie putt short on the 17th, and he knew his birdie on the 18th to finish at 13-under 267 would not be enough.
 
It was nice to get on the back nine and have a chance, and get the competitive nerves going again, Scott said. I really enjoyed that, and I enjoyed the challenge. I wish I could have made the putt on 17 to have a bit of a chance on the last, but all in all, Im pretty happy with how my game is shaping up.
 
Charles Howell III also had a chance, with three straight birdies around the turn and back-to-back birdies late in his round, a chip-in on the 16th and an 18-foot birdie on the 17th. But he missed the 18th green well to the left, chipped to 15 feet and three-putted for bogey to finish alone in fourth.
 
Fujikawa was feted at every turn, but his hopes faded quickly.
 
Fans lined the length of the 486-yard opening hole, and a handmade sign hanging from a palm tree behind the green said, Go Tadd. Bring it Home. It was signed by the grounds crew at Waialae, who stood and cheered.
 
But after opening with three pars, he began a steady descent down the leaderboard'along with one embarrassing moment.
 
Standing on the par-3 seventh tee, Fujikawa realized he only had 13 clubs. His caddie left a 6-iron back in the bunker on sixth fairway, and had to run back to retrieve it. Shakil Ahmed got an ovation when he returned to the tee, Fujikawa laughed, but then the kid put his shot into a bunker for another bogey.
 
He was only three behind when he made birdie at the turn, but each bogey dropped him 10 spots on a crowded leaderboard, ending his chance at winning, and finishing in the top 10 to earn a spot in the FBR Open. Ultimately, it affected the size of his check.
 
Fujikawas first PGA Tour paycheck was $29,237, more than doubling his career earnings.
 
It was a great week. I learned a lot from it, Fujikawa said. I qualified, I made the cut, I put myself in contention. If I can keep doing that, everything will work out.
 
Two groups behind the big crowd, Johnson and Toms were staging a quiet duel.
 
They traded birdies and bogeys with only about one-fourth the size of the gallery following Fujikawa, and when Toms two-putted for birdie on the ninth, they went to back nine at 11 under. Both made birdie on the 10th, but Johnson pulled ahead with a 5-iron to 4 feet for birdie on the 11th and an 8-footer on the 14th, and Toms never caught up.
 
Howell, the runner-up to Paul Goydos two years ago, ran off three birdies around the turn to briefly take the lead at 11 under, but he settled into a pars and appeared to be running out of putts until his late flurry. The three-putt only cost him money, for he had to birdie the 18th to have any hope of a playoff.
 
I take from it that I gave myself a chance, Howell said. This is the first week of school. It was nice to get the nerves back and get in a position to win.
 
DIVOTS: Saturdays attendance was 12,900, a 44 percent increase from the previous year, when Fujikawa missed the cut. Ernie Els tied for 39th, the first time in six appearances at the Sony Open that he finished worse than fifth. He closed with a 67 and has 21 of 24 rounds at Waialae in the 60s. Shigeki Maruyama missed a 3-foot birdie putt on the 18th, costing him a top 10 and a spot in the FBR Open in two weeks. He played the Sony Open on a sponsors exemption.
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard
  • Full Coverage ' Sony Open
  • Cut Line: Lyle faces third bout with cancer

    By Rex HoggardNovember 24, 2017, 5:40 pm

    In this week’s holiday edition, Cut Line is thankful for the PGA Tour’s continued progress on many fronts and the anticipation that only a Tiger Woods return can generate.

    Made Cut

    The Fighter. That was the headline of a story Cut Line wrote about Jarrod Lyle following his second bout with cancer a few years ago, so it’s both sad and surreal to see the affable Australian now bracing for a third fight with leukemia.

    Lyle is working as an analyst for Channel 7’s coverage of this week’s Emirates Australian Open prior to undergoing another stem cell transplant in December.

    “I’ve got a big month coming,” Lyle said. “I’m back into hospital for some really heavy-duty treatment that’s really going to determine how things pan out for me.”

    Twice before things have panned out for Lyle. Let’s hope karma has one more fight remaining.

    Changing times. Last season the PGA Tour introduced a policy to add to the strength of fields, a measure that had long eluded officials and by most accounts was a success.

    This season the circuit has chosen to tackle another long-standing thorn, ridiculously long pro-am rounds. While there seems little the Tour can do to speed up play during pro-am rounds, a new plan called a 9&9 format will at least liven things up for everyone involved.

    Essentially, a tournament hosting a pro-am with four amateurs can request the new format, where one professional plays the first nine holes and is replaced by another pro for the second nine.

    Professionals will have the option to request 18-hole pro-am rounds, giving players who limit practice rounds to just pro-am days a chance to prepare, but otherwise it allows Tour types to shorten what is an admittedly long day while the amateurs get a chance to meet and play with two pros.

    The new measure does nothing about pace of play, but it does freshen up a format that at times can seem tired, and that’s progress.

    Tweet of the week: @Love3d (Davis Love III‏) “Thanks to Dr. Flanagan (Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center) for the new hip and great care! Can’t wait to get back to (the PGA Tour).”

    Love offered the particularly graphic tweet following hip replacement surgery on Tuesday, a procedure that he admitted he’d delayed because he was “chicken.”

    The surgery went well and Love is on pace to return to the Tour sometime next spring. As for the possibility of over-sharing on social media, we’ll leave that to the crowd.


    Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

    Distance control. The Wall Street Journal provided the octagon for the opening blows of a clash that has been looming for a long time.

    First, USGA executive director Mike Davis told The Journal that the answer to continued distance gains may be a restricted-flight golf ball with an a la carte rule that would allow different organizations, from the Tour all the way down to private clubs, deciding which ball to use.

    “You can’t say you don’t care about distance, because guess what? These courses are expanding and are predicted to continue to expand,” Davis said. “The impact it has had has been horrible.”

    A day later, Wally Uihlein, CEO of Acushnet, which includes the Titleist brand, fired back in a letter to The Journal, questioning among other things how distance gains are putting a financial burden on courses.

    “The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate,” Uihlein wrote.

    For anyone paying attention the last few years, this day was inevitable and the likely start of what will be a drawn out and heated process, but Cut Line’s just not sure anyone wins when it’s over.

    Tiger, take II. Tiger Woods’ return to competition next week at the Hero World Challenge was always going to generate plenty of speculation, but that hyperbole reached entirely new levels this week as players began giving personal accounts of the new and improved 14-time major champion.

    “I did talk to him, and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years,’” Day said as he prepared for the Australian Open. “If he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.”

    Rickie Fowler added to the frenzy when he was asked this month if the rumors that Woods is driving the ball by him, by 20 to 30 yards by some reports, are true?

    “Oh, yeah,” he told Golf.com. “Way by.”

    Add to all this a recent line that surfaced in Las Vegas that Woods is now listed at 20-1 to win a major in 2018, and it seems now may be a good time for a restraint.

    Golf is better with Woods, always has been and always will be, but it may be best to allow Tiger time to find out where his body and game are before we declare him back.


    Missed Cut

    Searching for answers. Twelve months ago, Hideki Matsuyama was virtually unstoppable and, regardless of what the Official World Golf Ranking said, arguably the best player on the planet.

    Now a year removed from that lofty position, which featured the Japanese star finishing either first or second in six of his seven starts as the New Year came and went, Matsuyama has faded back to fifth in the world and on Sunday finished fifth, some 10 strokes behind winner Brooks Koepka, at the Dunlop Phoenix.

    “That hurt,” Matsuyama told the Japan Times. “I don’t know whether it’s a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well. It seems there are many issues to address.”

    Since his last victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Matsuyama has just two top-10 finishes on Tour and he ended his 2016-17 season with a particularly poor performance at the Presidents Cup.

    While Matsuyama’s take seems extreme considering his season, there are certainly answers that need answering.

    Trump playing 'quickly' with Tiger, DJ

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 24, 2017, 1:33 pm

    Updated at 11:14 a.m. ET

    An Instagram user known as hwalks posted photos to her account that included images of Tiger Woods, President Trump and Dustin Johnson Friday at Trump National, as well as video of Woods' swing.



    Original story:

    Tiger Woods is scheduled to make his return to competition next week at his Hero World Challenge. But first, a (quick) round with the President.

    President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday that he was going to play at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., alongside Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.



    Woods and President Trump previously played last December. Trump, who, according to trumpgolfcount.com has played 75 rounds since taking over the presidency, has also played over the last year with Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els and Hideki Matsuyama.

    Chawrasia leads major champs in Hong Kong

    By Associated PressNovember 24, 2017, 1:19 pm

    HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia extended his lead at the Hong Kong Open to two strokes Friday after a 4-under 66 in the second round.

    Chawrasia, who had led by one at the Hong Kong Golf Club, is at 9-under 131 overall and took as much as a five-stroke lead at one point.

    ''Yesterday I was putting very well, and today, also I make some up and downs. I saved a couple of short putts. That's why I think I'm leading by two shots most probably,'' the Indian said. ''The next two days, I'm just looking forward.''


    Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open


    Thomas Aiken (64) is second, followed by Alexander Bjork (66), Joakim Lagergren (66), Poom Saksansin (68) and Julian Suri (67) at 5 under 135.

    Aiken's round was the lowest of the tournament.

    ''It is tough out there. The greens are really firm. You've got to hit the fairway,'' Aiken said. ''If you get above the holes, putts can get away from you.''

    Justin Rose (69) had six birdies, but three bogeys and a double-bogey at the par 3 12th kept him at 3 under for the tournament.

    Masters champion Sergio Garcia (71), playing for the first time in Hong Kong, was at even par, as was defending champion Sam Brazel (71) and 2014 champion Scott Hend (67).

    ''I have to play better,'' Garcia said. ''The way I felt like I played, it's difficult. This kind of course, you need to play well to shoot a good score.''

    Day (68) just one back at Australian Open

    By Nick MentaNovember 24, 2017, 6:40 am

    Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.

    Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)

    What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.


    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


    Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.

    Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.

    Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.

    Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.