2009 Sony Open in Hawaii Review
Waialae Country Club, Honolulu, Hawaii
by Matt of Predictem.com
The PGA finished up its opening two-week trip to Hawaii with Zach Johnson pulling out a two-stroke victory at the Sony Open. Waialae Country Club proved a stern test for the pros as 20 mph winds were common and 40 mph gusts in the early rounds forced tee boxes up and almost wiped out play all together on Friday. Still, solid scores were fired by players that figured out the wind, with 15-under serving as the winning total.
Zach Johnson was solid in all phases throughout the week, finishing 3rd in fairways and 12th in greens hit, while having the 5th best putts per GIR stat to take the trophy. Johnson carded rounds in the 60s on all four days en route to his 5th career PGA victory and earned $972,000 for the win.
Shigeki Maruyama proved a great story throughout the week as he fired a 65 that included a front-nine 31 on the way to a one-stroke lead after day one. Maruyama has slipped out of the top-200 in the world rankings after battling several injuries, but now looks poised to make a comeback.
Geoff Ogilvy continued his hot play as the 2009 Mercedes-Benz Champion sat one stoke out of the lead after a 66 along with Boo Weekley, Brian Gay, Nathan Green and Webb Simpson.
Nathan Green followed up his opening 66 with another on Friday and grabbed a share of the 36-hole lead at 8-under with Tom Pernice Jr, who fired a 7-under, 63. Pernice did falter through the weekend, finishing T59 at even-par after a 75/73 finish.
Maruyama and Brian Gay stayed a stoke back at 7-under with Webb Simpson and Zach Johnson settling two strokes back.
The weather proved the most demanding on Friday with severe gusts and random rain showers, yet Fridays scoring average of 70.11 was the lowest of any single day. There were no bogey free rounds on either Thursday or Friday and the cut came at 1-over par. Notables missing the cut were Davis Love III, Chris DiMarco and Rich Beem.
The plot line of the tournament emerged as Honolulu local, Tadd Fujikawa, stormed the leader board with a tournament low round of 8-under, 62. Fujikawa made a name for himself two years ago at this event, when he made the cut as a 16 year old, eventually finishing 20th and turning professional shortly thereafter. Now 18, Fujikawa was playing as a Monday qualifier and missed the tournament record by just one shot in his first made cut as a pro.
Zach Johnson continued his strong move up the board, carding a 66; good for a one-shot lead at 10-under over a foursome at 9-under. Maruayma, Gay and Green were joined in second by an emerging David Toms and his Saturday round of 65 to get in the final pairing.
Tadd Fujikawa went out amid great support bythe local spectators, but faltered early and could never get on track, eventually shooting a 73 and dropping to a tie for 32nd.
Many of the contenders got off to early struggles as nearly all carded at least one bogey on the front nine. Adam Scott and Charles Howell were out ahead of the closing groups and making noise with birdie streaks to get into a tie for the lead with Zach Johnson at 10-under.
Neither player could post a number that put pressure on Johnson who reeled off birdies on 8,10,11 and 14 to bring a one stroke edge over Toms into the final hole. Toms’ took an aggressive line with his tee shot to have a go at the par-5 green in two, but his ball found the fairway bunker and could only manage a par at the last. Johnson found the green in two and two putted to extend the winning margin to two strokes.
Scott, Tim Clark and Bart Bryant tied for the low round of the day with 6-under, 64’s. Scott moved from 10th to T2 while Clark and Bryant moved to 12th and 32nd from 50th and 62nd, respectively.
Charles Howell took the fourth spot at 12-under with Brian Gay and Kevin Na rounding out the top 5 at 11-under par.
Each week, we pick a player to win from a short, middle and long odds look and make a few head to head match picks available at the golf sportsbooks. Here’s how we fared at the Sony.
Picks to Win:
Short Odds: Geoff Ogilvy - We tried to ride the hot hand and it looked good after round one, but Ogilvy faded on the weekend and finished T32.
Middle of the Road: K.J. Choi - the defending champ never really threatened the leaders, but did shoot a 66 on Sunday to move into a tie for 12th.
Longshot: Zach Johnson - Our first big win of the year as Zach paid 30 to 1 for the outright win. Johnson rides into next week as the only player with two top-10 finishes.
Matches: (our pick)
Jerry Kelly v. Ryuji Imada (Kelly) (push)
Kelly was on the first page of the leaderboard on day one, but an up and down weekend landed him in a tie with Imada at 6-under and a push.
George McNeill v. Parker McLachlin (McLachlin) (loss)
McLachlin looked good as a local coming off a top-10 here last year, but a rough start led to a missed cut and an easy win for McNeill who played solid all week.
YTD Match Record: 0-3-1
The Bob Hope is next on the schedule as the PGA returns to the mainland.