Maruyama leads Ogilvy remains hot

By Associated PressJanuary 15, 2009, 5:00 pm
2007 Sony OpenHONOLULU ' Shigeki Maruyama took a step back from obscurity on the PGA Tour with a 5-under 65 in the wind and occasional rain Thursday afternoon for a one-shot lead in the Sony Open.
Maruyama, who failed to keep his tour card last year for the first time this decade, showed signs of improving in Japan late last year and kept it up on a challenging afternoon at Waialae.
He dropped only one shot, and took the outright lead with a 5-foot birdie on the par-3 17th.
That knocked Geoff Ogilvy off the top of the leaderboard for the first time this year. The Sony Open is only the second tournament, but Ogilvy is coming off a wire-to-wire victory in the Mercedes-Benz Championship last week, and opened with a 66.
Boo Weekley, Brian Gay and PGA Tour rookie Webb Simpson also were at 66.
The first full-field event of the 2009 season was filled with all kinds of weather ' hot blasts of sunshine would be interrupted by pounding rain that would last 10 minutes, and then the skies would clear.
But the wind never left, blowing 20 mph at sunrise and still causing the palm trees to sway late in the afternoon. Tour officials moved up several tees by at least 30 yards, and Waialae played 166 yards shorter than the scorecard.
The forecast Friday was for gusts up to 50 mph, and the Honolulu public schools already have been closed.
I knew the weather report was for a lot of wind today, so I was mentally prepared when I got to the golf course, Maruyama said. Then I snap-hooked one on the first hole, but all I was trying to do really all day was just keep my rhythm, keep my tempo.
Ogilvy was simply trying to keep going, and he did that well.
One week after his six-shot victory at Kapalua, the 31-year-old Australian kept the ball in the tiny fairways of Waialae and made six birdies to take the lead among the morning starters.
I just think everyone who played last week is at an advantage coming here, because they have all got a week of tournament golf under their belt, a week in the wind under their belt, same sort of grass, Ogilvy said.
That would explain Weekley and Gay, who also played last week in the winners-only Mercedes-Benz Championship.
But Simpson?
The rookie from Wake Forest has not played since earning his card at Q-school last month, and weather at home in North Carolina hasnt been conducive to practice. Waialae proved to be a tough place to start, especially with the wind.
I was pretty nervous, Simpson said. I said a quick prayer before I teed off, and I was fine.
The group at 67 included Luke Donald, Charles Howell III and Brendon de Jonge, who won the Nationwide Tour money title last year.
The teenagers held their own.
Tadd Fujikawa, an 18-year-old senior in high school playing the Sony Open for the third straight year, took double bogey on the tough opening hole and settled down the rest of the way for a 71, leaving him a good chance to make his first PGA Tour cut as a pro. He tied for 20th two years ago as an amateur.
Lorens Chan, the 14-year-old who earned the amateur exemption, had two birdies in his round of 72.
Maruyama struggled with shoulder and knee injuries last year, and went home to Japan the final five months of the season to recharge. He had a pair of top threes late in the year, and his confidence is slowly coming around.
It was a number of things last year ' physically, mentally, emotionally, he said. Thats why I went to Japan.
He is playing this week on a sponsors exemption and would like to play more on the PGA Tour. It would sure make things easier if I could win, Maruyama said.
Defending champion K.J. Choi bogeyed the par-5 18th for a 68, and he spoke for a majority of the field when he described the difficulties of such a strong wind.
First time in the Kona wind, he said Today is more difficult than the last time, especially short putts. The grain is going left-to-right, the wind is blowing left-to-right. Very confusing.
As for the rain?
Six times with the umbrella, he said.
Only 39 players in the 144-man field managed to break par. That included Jeff Klauk, one of 26 rookies at Waialae, who was tied for the lead at 5 under with his third straight birdie on the 11th hole. He was 4 over the rest of the way.
Its windy out there, aint no doubt about that, Weekley said. I like the conditions thats out here right now. I dont think anybody can run away from you in these conditions.
He played with Ogilvy, who did just that last week at Kapalua when he won by six shots. The wind never blew quite this hard at Kapalua, but it was manageable this week because Waialae is at sea level.
It was a fair bit easier, Ogilvy said. Theres so much guesswork last week when youre 230 yards away and between an 8-iron and a 9-iron. When its flat, its just the wind you have to deal with.

Related Links:
  • Leaderboard
  • Full Coverage ' Sony Open
  • GOLF CHANNEL Airtimes
  • Getty Images

    After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

    Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

    On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

    Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

    Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

    It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard

    On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

    There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

    He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

    His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

    Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

    Getty Images

    Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

    With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

    He picked up one more No. 2, too.

    The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

    In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

    Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

    “It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

    Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

    Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

    He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

    Getty Images

    Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

    Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

    Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

    His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

    “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

    Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

    Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

    Getty Images

    Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

    Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

    Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

    What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

    Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

    Best of the rest: A two-time winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

    Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

    Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

    Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

    Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry