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.
 

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  • 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.