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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Ogilvy keeps up pace on another island

Thursday, January 15, 2009


AP Golf Writer

HONOLULU -- A different island and a vastly different golf course made hardly any difference to Geoff Ogilvy, who opened the Sony Open with a 4-under 66 in a strong wind to join a four-way tie for the lead among early starters Thursday.

One week after his wire-to-wire victory at spacious Kapalua, Ogilvy kept the ball in the tiny fairways of Waialae despite a steady 20 mph wind and made six birdies to share the lead with Boo Weekley, Brian Gay and PGA Tour rookie Webb Simpson.

"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 hasn't been conducive to practice. Waialae proved to be a tough place to start, especially with wind so strong that palm trees swayed in the morning sunshine.

"I was pretty nervous," Simpson said. "I said a quick prayer before I teed off, and I was fine."

Simpson took advantage of the wind on his final three holes, starting with a tee shot to 8 feet on the seventh. He hit his approach to 3 feet on the downwind eighth, and easily reached the par-5 ninth.

Charles Howell III, who changed coaches after his worst season on the PGA Tour (69th on the money list), got some early dividends with only one bogey for a 67. The group at 68 included former Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger, Rory Sabbatini and Tim Herron, who found even a blustery day near Waikiki Beach to be better than 17-below at home in Minnesota.

The teenagers held their own.

Tadd Fujikawa, the 18-year-old making his third straight Sony Open appearance, began with a double bogey and settled down from there on his way to 71. Lorens Chan, the 14-year-old amateur qualifier, had a 72.

Both had the biggest gallery of the morning, including a group called "Chan's Clan" that was dressed in red shirts.

This was no day on the beach.

The wind was raging at sunrise, and tour officials moved the tees up 43 yards on one hole and 36 yards on another. The actual yardage for the opening round was 166 yards shorter than what's on the scorecard. Herron was so thankful that he stopped rules official Mark Russell to tell him.

Still, only 21 of the 72 players who teed off in the morning wave could break 70.

"It's windy out there, ain't no doubt about that," Weekley said. "I like the conditions that's out here right now. I don't 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. "There's so much guesswork last week when you're 230 yards away and between an 8-iron and a 9-iron. When it's flat, it's just the wind you have to deal with."

But it wasn't easy.

Howell was among those who began his year on the first hole, one of the nastiest starts on tour, even without any wind. The driving range is to the left, houses on the right, both marked out-of-bounds, for a par 4 that measures 477 yards.

"I hit a good drive and a 5-wood over the green, and I got up-and-down for birdie," Howell said, a referring to a hole that felt like it was a par 5. "But I can't say anything. Brian Gay made a real birdie, so he got the skin."

Ogilvy started on the par-4 10th, where some players could reach the green with a strong drive. He kept it under par most of the round, picked up birdies on the two par 5s and finished strong.

And he did it with a clean-shaven face.

Ogilvy had stubble from forgetting to bring his razor last week, then didn't want to jinx himself and had close to a beard by Sunday. But he shaved when he got to Honolulu, and probably will the rest of the week.

"Maybe I have to run the opposite superstition this week," he said.


Without a club deal, Azinger had equipment from six brands in his bag at the Sony Open, including the Mizuno irons he was using when he won at Waialae in 2000. ... Azinger said he has agreed to work at least two tournaments for The Golf Channel this year -- the Accenture Match Play Championship and the Presidents Cup.

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