HONOLULU – Shigeki Maruyama had another 5-under 65 and found himself atop the leaderboard in the Sony Open on Saturday, allowing him to look ahead to the final round.
He is more concerned about stamina than nerves.
Maruyama, winless on the PGA Tour since 2003, hit a bunker shot that banged into pin and dropped for birdie on the par-3 seventh to break out of a tie, and a two-putt birdie on the short par-5 ninth gave him a two-shot advantage over the early starters.
Stuart Appleby, the 18-hole leader, was among those who played Waialae in the afternoon.
Because the opening round was washed out by rain, the Sony Open is to be decided by a 36-hole final round. The 41-year-old Maruyama looked at his shoes and said with a laugh, “My feet. It’s a problem.”
“I’m getting older, and 36 holes is going to be a struggle,” said Maruyama, who was at 10-under 130.
He was two shots clear of Steve Marino (67) and Roland Thatcher (65), whose runner-up finish at Disney in the final PGA Tour event last year enabled him to keep his card and book a trip to Hawaii.
Matt Kuchar, coming off a PGA Tour money title and the Vardon Trophy, had a 67 and was at 7-under 133. The group at 134 includes Boo Weekley (66) and Chris DiMarco (67), who are looking to turn their fortunes around.
Anthony Kim had the best score of the morning group, a 64 that got him back into the picture.
The cut was to be the nearest number of players to 60th place to keep the field small for the 36-hole final. Anyone finishing in the top 70 will still receive credit for a cut, along with money and FedEx Cup points.
“Anybody who’s made the cut has got a decent change to play for the championship tomorrow,” Thatcher said.
Maruyama, playing on a sponsor exemption, is popular at this tournament with several Japanese in the gallery and a Japanese sponsor. He has not been heard from much since going three straight seasons with a PGA Tour victory a decade ago, part of that from back and shoulder issues.
Waialae is one of his favorite courses, however, because there’s not a premium on length. Accuracy wasn’t a big deal for him Saturday, as he hit only five fairways. Putting? That helps anywhere, and Maruyama had only 25 putts, helped by holing the bunker shot on No. 7 and knocking in a 40-foot putt from the fringe on the 15th.
But he is well aware the tournament is only half over.
“I haven’t gotten that far yet to think about winning,” he said through an interpreter. “Right now, it’s just been about really trying to play good golf and entertain the Japanese tourists who are here in number.”
Not many other players are as happy to be on the shores near Waikiki quite like Thatcher. He blew a chance to start his season even earlier with the rest of the winners at Kapalua, although he wasn’t complaining. A clutch putt on the last hole at Disney gave him enough money that he didn’t have to go back to Q-school.
He said the experience aged him a year. Oddly enough, he didn’t feel like resting.
“Instead of being dead exhausted at the end of the year, I think I had a little extra pep in my step heading into the offseason and actually didn’t take time off at all,” Thatcher said. “I tried to hit this year with a little bit quicker start, and so far it’s paying off.”