Course not kind to local talent
Last year, Dean Wilson rallied strong toward the end of the season and finished 102nd on the PGA Tour money list with $821,903 in earnings.
The Castle graduate and Hawaii's only regular PGA Tour pro hopes to get off the mark faster in 2006, beginning with the Sony Open. He has some work to do today to make the cut after yesterday's first-round of 3-over 36-37--73 at Waialae Country Club put him in a tie for 88th.
"If I get off to a good start and don't have to worry about the top 125 (for 2007 exempt status) maybe I can free myself up and play a little better," he said. "That's my hopes for this year. When you know you're coming down to the last few tournaments and you have to make X amount of money to just keep your job, it's tough. Whereas everything after that is just bonus, that lets you loosen up a bit."
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Former U.S. Open champ Scott Simpson helped out Punahou grad Parker McLachlin yesterday.
His best finishes in 27 tournaments last year were sixth at the Barclays Classic and seventh at the Valero Texas Open.
Like many other players yesterday, especially those who golfed in the afternoon, Wilson was challenged by the wind.
"It made it tough out there. But it's the same for everyone out there," he said. "You can't afford to miss a lot of shots. The wind takes it to the rough."
Wilson, whose residence is now in Las Vegas, has been here the past three weeks and has had lots of time to practice at Waialae.
"But when the tour comes in they start rolling the greens and it changes everything and the speeds are so different," he said. "The picture your eye sees is different."
Earlier, Punahou graduate Parker McLachlin shot 2-over 35-37--72 with the help of the tournament's most famous caddie, former U.S. Open champion Scott Simpson. He finished the day tied for 72nd after recovering nicely from three bogeys on his first seven holes.
"It was fun," said Simpson, a longtime family friend who volunteered to carry McLachlin's bag when the latter qualified on Monday. "Parker played really well, close to being under par."
It was a homecoming in many ways for McLachlin, who also played here in the 2000 tournament, missing the cut at 71-78. As a youngster, he worked at Waialae.
"I vacuumed the pro shop, cleaned the toilets, worked the cart barn," the 26-year-old Nationwide Tour pro said. "Anything to get playing privileges."
David Ishii, the 1990 Hawaiian Open champion, turned in the best round of the golfers from the islands. He shot 35-36--71 despite playing some holes after sunset.
Kevin Hayashi also finished the day with legitimate hopes of making the cut, tied for 88th with 37-36--73.
Three others struggled and needed phenomenal rounds today to continue. Brandan Kop, the only amateur in the field, carded 37-40--77. Beau Yokomoto struggled to 40-38--78. Michelle Wie was tied for second to last with 1992 champion John Cook after she shot 37-42--79.
Five of the last seven winners at the Sony Open played the week before at the winners-only Mercedes. And while Sabbatini wasn't among them this year, five players who did compete last week are in the top 10 after only 18 holes. They are David Toms
(tied for second), K.J. Choi
(T2nd), Peter Lonard
(T6th), Jim Furyk
(T6th) and Vaughn Taylor
(T6th). Lonard, Furyk and Taylor finished in the top 10 of last week's event.
"It's a huge advantage this week for you to have played last week at Mercedes," 1999 Sony Open champion Jeff Sluman said.
"I think of all the weeks on tour that you might have an advantage, that would be the kicker, coming from there to here I think is a huge deal because most of the guys are obviously starting the year here. You get four good, competitive rounds under your belt there, it's a big jump on the field."
Inside the numbers:
The two easiest holes on the course yesterday were the two par-5s. The 18th had the lowest scoring average at 4.410 with seven eagles, 75 birdies, 58 pars and four bogeys. The ninth yielded a scoring average of 4.507 with five eagles, 74 birdies, 55 pars, seven bogeys and three double bogeys.
The hardest hole was the par-4 second with a scoring average of 4.507, which equaled the par-5 ninth. There were only five birdies, 80 pars, 43 bogeys, 14 double bogeys and two triple bogeys or worse. Jimmy Walker had a 3-over seven and Cook had a 4-over eight, affectionately called a snowman.