Sunday, January 16, 2005

Castle graduate Dean Wilson shot a 72 yesterday and sits 11 strokes off the pace entering today's final round.

Aces at Waialae are
old hat to Maruyama

Shigeki Maruyama and holes-in-one are old companions.

His ace yesterday at the 202-yard par-3 fourth was his fourth on the PGA Tour and his second at the Sony Open in Hawaii. That hole-in-one four years ago during the first round at the par-3 seventh was his first on tour. He had two others at the 2002 U.S. Open and at the Bank of America Colonial in 2003.

But did he know from the outset that it was going in? Well, not exactly.

"I knew it was a good ball after I hit it," Maruyama said of the sixth ace of his overall career. "But no one, even me, I wasn't expecting that ball to go into the hole. So I should do more overreacting after the ball went in the hole, but I wasn't expecting it. So that was disappointing for me, no overreaction (for ESPN)."

Actually, Maruyama took a step off the tee box, paused a moment when he heard the roar of the crowd, then exchanged a subdued high five with his caddy. Still, it was a key shot, especially after the double bogey to begin the round.

"It was a really bad start, but I didn't think negative," Maruyama said. "I just tried to think positive things. Fortunately, I had a hole-in-one and that saved my game, really saved my game today. Then I could really think positive after that and could play my golf. I don't know what was going to happen if I didn't have a hole-in-one out there."

A charitable finish: The hole-in-one for Maruyama resulted in a nice charitable donation from Crestor, which is donating $50,000 for every golfer who leads after the 54-hole mark. Last week at the Mercedes Championships, Vijay Singh won the $50,000 donation.

Maruyama will also donate $50,000 to the health-care charity of his choice. The program, now in its second year, donates $3.5 million a year to charities. The Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center will be the beneficiary of the $50,000 donation from Crestor.

Third is a charm: Players who hold or share the third-round lead at this PGA Tour stop in Hawaii have gone on to win 19 of the 39 times this tournament has gone all 72 holes. The last to do so was Jerry Kelly, who held a two-stroke lead over John Cook and David Toms in 2002.

He edged Cook by one. Cook was distracted by a cell-phone call on the tee box at the par-3 17th that led to a bogey. Kelly wound up winning by one. This week, Cook and Toms survived the cut, but Kelly was gone after the second round. Cook is 11 strokes off the pace and Toms is seven back.

Bye bye, Ernie: It doesn't appear two-time defending champion Ernie Els will successfully defend his title again. The big South African struggled to an even-par 70 yesterday, only the second time he has ever shot in the 70s on the Waialae course. He is tied for 22nd at 2-under 208, eight strokes off the pace.

Singhing a different tune: World No. 1 Singh, on the other hand, is still in the chase. He posted his ninth consecutive round in the 60s here with a 3-under 67 yesterday. He is tied for sixth and is looking to better his top finish here, which was a tie for 10th last year.

Singh is also looking to post his eighth consecutive top-10 finish. It would be Singh's second-best career streak of top 10s after the 12 straight he ran off between the 2003 WGC-NEC Invitational and the 2004 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

Local time: Hawaii golfers Dean Wilson and Greg Meyer aren't posing any threat to the leaders this week. After Wilson got in at the last minute, he shot an opening round of 69, but has struggled to break par since. He fired a 2-over 72 yesterday and is tied for 41st at 211.

Meyer came back with a 4-over 74 yesterday to dip to 215 for the week. He is alone in 74th place entering the final round.

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