Big chunk of the field will skip Sony Open at Waialae
KAPALUA, Maui » The fallout of having to play so many tournaments in the summer and fall to have a chance to win the FedEx Cup hit the Sony Open in Hawaii hard as the final field was announced late yesterday evening.
In the last few years, most of the golfers taking part in the Mercedes Championship have opted to stick around for the first full-field event on the PGA Tour, but such is not the case this year.
Led by second-round Mercedes-Benz Championship leader Mike Weir and fellow veteran Justin Leonard, nine golfers in the 31-man field will not play next week in Honolulu. When you add Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Adam Scott and Padraig Harrington, who also skipped the Mercedes, 13 of the 35 golfers who qualified for this week's winners-only event will not be taking part in the Sony Open.
The other seven playing this week who are moving on to California and the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic are Woody Austin, defending Hope champion Charley Hoffman, Hunter Mahan, Henrik Stenson, Scott Verplank, Joe Ogilvie and Nick Watney.
On a positive note, world No. 3 Jim Furyk and 2006 Sony Open champion Vijay Singh will be a part of the 144-man field that includes local teen sensation Tadd Fujikawa, U.S. Open champion Angel Cabrera and Masters champion Zach Johnson.
Among the big names making their '08 debuts are Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger, John Daly, Jerry Kelly, Tom Lehman and Kenny Perry. Joining Fujikawa on the local scene are second-year tour player Parker McLachlin and veteran Dean Wilson.
Fall series well represented
All seven winners of the tour's fall series that were played after the Tour Championship in September are here this week and playing well. Four of them are in the top 10 of this week's tournament, which gives you an idea they are still playing good golf.
They are second-round leader Weir, fellow Canadian Stephen Ames (tied for second), Leonard (tied for sixth) and Daniel Chopra (tied for sixth). There were a dozen first-timers in this tournament who played well on Thursday, including Chopra and first-round leader Watney (tied for fourth), but those who have played well here before surged to the top of the leaderboard after yesterday's second round.
Scores go low
Not since 2005 have there been as many birdies as produced in yesterday's second round that saw the scoring average drop a full three strokes.
The most difficult hole yesterday was the par-3 11th with a scoring average of 3.258. The hardest hole on Thursday was the par-3 eighth. At the 11th yesterday there was one birdie by Jonathan Byrd, 21 pars and nine bogeys. The easiest hole was the par-5 fifth with a scoring average of 4.419. On Thursday, the easiest hole was the par-5 15th.
Yesterday, the fifth yielded 19 birdies, 11 pars and one bogey by Steve Stricker. Weir recorded the only eagle of 2008 at the par-5 ninth. His reaction?
"I'll take it," said Weir, who was Wilson's roommate at BYU. "Anytime you're making eagles, that's a bonus."
Calc likes Mercedes
has always enjoyed playing in this elite field. After opening with a 75 on Thursday, he carded a 7-under 66 yesterday to move into a tie for sixth. In 10 previous starts in this tournament, he has finished in the top 10 five times.
Johnny Miller is the only golfer to open with a 75 to come back to win the Mercedes Championship. He did it in 1974. His final three rounds that year were 69, 67, 69 for a four-day total of 280.
Calcavecchia won the 2007 PODS Championship after opening with a 75. He hopes history is on his side during the final two rounds.