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Aloha Again Players Hop to Honolulu

04 Sony OpenErnie Els was all the talk a year ago at this time. But now its the Big Wiesy, not the Big Easy, who is garnering all the attention as the PGA Tour prepares for its first full-field event of the 2004 season.
Michelle Wie headlines the field in this weeks Sony Open in Hawaii. The 14-year-old Honolulu native is in a on a sponsors exemption. She tried to compete last year but shot 73 in Monday qualifying and missed earning a spot by six strokes.
The ninth-grader played in last weeks Mercedes Championships pro-am, and will play in the Sony pro-am alongside defending champion Els.
I really want to make the cut, no matter what. Because I think I can. I think I should, Wie said.
This is Wies third foray into a mens professional event. She missed the cut last year in tournaments on the Nationwide and Canadian tours. She has competed in 10 LPGA Tour events over the last two years, making six cuts and tying for ninth in the Kraft Nabisco Championship, where she played in the final group on Sunday.
But the female prodigy isnt the only notable name at Waialae Country Club.
Twenty-three of the 30 players in the winners-only Mercedes field are island hopping over to Maui. That includes Els, Mercedes winner Stuart Appleby, reigning U.S. Open champion and 1996 Sony winner Jim Furyk, Vijay Singh, Davis Love III, British Open champion Ben Curtis, PGA champion Shaun Micheel, Kenny Perry and Retief Goosen.
Els completed the Hawaiian sweep a year ago. He set the Plantation course ablaze in routing the elite Mercedes field. He then held off a stern challenge by then PGA Tour rookie Aaron Baddeley, making a 43-foot birdie putt on the second hole of sudden-death.
It was the first time since Steve Jones in 1989 that a person had won the first two events of the season.
Els wont be able to duplicate that feat this year, as he finished tied for 21st last week.
There have only been two repeat winners in the 38-year history of this event: Hubert Green in 1978-79 and Corey Pavin in 1986-87.
The purse is $4,800,000, with $864,000 going to the champion.
The 72-hole tournament scoring record in 260; set by John Huston in 1998 and tied by Brad Faxon three years later. Love holds the course record, shooting 10-under 60 in 1994.
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