Friday, January 15, 2010

Logjam for lead on 65 in windy Sony Open

Defending champion Zach Johnson shot 65 and is in a tie for the lead with five others after the opening round of the Sony Open on a windy day at Waialae on Hawaii.
The men sharing the pole position include Davis Love III, who has not played a tournament in two months, Robert Allenby, who probably should not have played at all, and Troy Merritt, making his debut in a US PGA Tour event.
Related links to more news:
Leaderboard: Round 1
Round 2 tee times
Scorecard: Ryan Palmer
Scorecard: Zach Johnson
Interview transcripts

The first full-field event of the 2010 US season produced quite the log jam, with Allenby and his severely twisted ankle and John Merrick the latest to join the fray at 5-under 65.
The other two were defending champion Zach Johnson and Ryan Palmer, linked in a peculiar way. Johnson is a big believer in taking one day at a time. Palmer read about Johnson's tenet in the tournament programme while looking for something to read, and it inspired him.
When the sun finally disappeared along the shores of Waikiki, everyone had a story. They also had company, for 10 other players found themselves only one shot behind at 66.
Even more surprising is that so many low scores came on a day of swaying palm trees from wind so strong that Masters champion Angel Cabrera, among those at 66, reached the 498yd ninth hole with and drive and a wedge, and Pat Perez hit a 7-iron out of the rough from 210 yards on the tough opening hole.
Perhaps the best indication that this would be a strange day came from a standardbearer.
Merritt, a 24-year-old from Boise State, was walking down the third fairway Thursday morning when someone pointed out that the wrong name was on the hand-held scoring sign. It said Merrick.
Their names sound the same and are almost spelled the same.
"We have lockers right next to each other," Merrick said. "Probably will all year."
It was only fitting they wound up with the same score.
The round was almost complete. Tom Gillis faced a 25ft eagle putt on his final hole when he decided it was too dark to continue. He will return Friday morning to putt, then start his second round.
Indeed, this was a peculiar start for the first full-field event to the season.
It started with Love, who had not felt grass under his feet for the last month. It was either so cold along the Georgia coastline that he was hitting balls into a net in his garage, or he was in Idaho for a winter vacation.
No sooner had he checked into his hotel Saturday night, Love raced out to the 11th green to get onto a golf course, and he putted until he could no longer see the hole. The way he putted on Thursday, he didn't need to see it.
Love played bogey-free and was among the first to post a 65.
"I was optimistic," Love said. "But I was anxious about competing. Once I got it going, once I got under par ... I've been out here a long time. You don't forget."
Merritt lingered, even if no one knew who he was. He was playing alongside 21-year-old Rickie Fowler, whom everyone seems to know, yet it was Merritt who provided the pure shots and the timely putting. Merritt had told his fiancee he would be thrilled with 3-under par, and one can imagine how he felt when he birdied his last hole for a 65.
"Things went way better than I thought," Merritt said.
Allenby was the only player at Waialae who arrived with a winning streak. He won in the Nedbank Challenge, then the Australian PGA, and was going for a walk with his wife, Sandy, when he took a bad step off a curb and twisted his ankle.
The Australian wasn't sure he could play and might have left any other tournament. Then again, he flew 12 hours from Florida and didn't much feel like turning around.
"And the weather is better," Allenby said.
He played gingerly on the taped right ankle, however, and had a hard time hitting a fade. That didn't keep him from firing a 4-iron at the flag on the tough par-3 fourth for a birdie.
"My putting was the best part of the day," Allenby said. "I did hit some good shots, but my putting was good. It's the same as I left off last year."
EXTRAS: Charles Howell III said his wife, Heather, is expecting their first child on May 30 ... Tadd Fujikawa, who made the cut at the Sony Open when he was 16, opened with a 72. He celebrated his 19th birthday last week. ... Sean O'Hair has a stress fracture in his left arm and said he would take the next few weeks off to get tests. He didn't practise this week but still opened with a 68. ... John Daly, competing on a sponsor's exemption, struggled with his putter and shot 73.
Par 70. Play was suspended due to darkness, several players still to complete their rounds.
65 John Merrick, Robert Allenby (Aus), Zach Johnson, Ryan Palmer, Davis Love III, Troy Merritt
66 Brian Stuard, Steve Stricker, Pat Perez, Martin Flores, Jeff Quinney, Tom Lehman, Angel Cabrera (Arg), Roger Tambellini, Carl Pettersson (Swe), Shane Bertsch
67 Ricky Barnes, Michael Allen, Troy Matteson
68 Rory Sabbatini (Rsa), Brian Gay, Kevin Johnson, Stewart Cink, Mark Wilson, Chad Campbell, Bob Estes, Ryuichi Oda (Jpn), Sean O'Hair, Wen-chong Liang (Chn), Ryuji Imada (Jpn), Stephen Ames (Can)
69 Spencer Levin, Retief Goosen (Rsa), Jason Dufner, Graham Delaet (Can), Joe Ogilvie, T.j Kua, Bubba Watson, Blake Adams, Vijay Singh (Fij), Chris Tidland, Chad Collins, Marc Leishman (Aus), Ernie Els (Rsa), Briny Baird
70 David Toms, Woody Austin, Ben Curtis, Chez Reavie, Christopher Baryla (Can), Jeff Klauk, Justin Leonard, Aaron Goldberg, Y E Yang (Kor), Brian Davis (Eng), Omar Uresti, Matt Kuchar, Dustin Johnson, John Rollins, Fredrik Jacobson (Swe), Rich Barcelo
71 Daisuke Maruyama (Jpn), Nick O'Hern (Aus), Matt Bettencourt, Webb Simpson, Jim Carter, Matthew Jones (Aus), Henrik Bjornstad (Nor), Nathan Green (Aus), Dean Wilson, Roland Thatcher, Boo Weekley, Bryce Molder, Jerod Turner, Nick Mason, Chris Wilson, Richard S Johnson (Swe), Mark Calcavecchia, K J Choi (Kor), Corey Pavin, Tim Clark (Rsa), Cameron Tringale, Josh Teater
72 Jeff Gove, Greg Kraft, Brenden Pappas (Rsa), Steve Wheatcroft, Tadd Fujikawa, Justin Rose (Eng), Tim Petrovic, Bo Van Pelt, Stuart Appleby (Aus), Brendon De Jonge, Ted Purdy, Parker McLachlin, Cameron Percy (Aus), George McNeill, Paul Goydos, Cameron Beckman, D.J. Trahan
73 David Lutterus (Rsa), Michael Letzig, Mathias Gronberg (Swe), Charles Howell III, John Daly, Daniel Chopra (Swe), Brett Quigley, Bill Haas, Kris Blanks, Scott Piercy, Derek Lamely, Jason Day (Aus), Charlie Wi (Kor), Kevin Na, Jeff Maggert, John Huston, Jay Williamson, Johnson Wagner
74 Jerry Kelly, Chris Riley, Kevin Hayashi (Jpn), Luke Donald (Eng), Alex Prugh
75 Scott McCarron, Jeff Overton, Garth Mulroy (Rsa), Lucas Glover, Brad Faxon, Jimmy Walker, Rich Beem, Rickie Fowler, Jonathan Byrd, Shigeki Maruyama (Jpn), Jesper Parnevik (Swe)
76 Kaname Yokoo (Jpn), Justin Bolli, Billy Horschel, Harrison Frazar
77 D A Points, Steve Lowery, Marc Turnesa, Tim Wilkinson (Nzl)
79 Nicholas Thompson

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