CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
Punahou alumnus Parker McLachlin was the only Hawaii golfer to make the cut at the Sony Open yesterday.
McLachlin makes cut; Fujikawa, Wilson not so lucky
For the first time in three rounds at the 2008 Sony Open, Hawaii golf fans will know exactly who to follow.
Parker McLachlin fired a 4-under 66 for a two-day score of 139, making the cut by a stroke as the only one of five Hawaii-born players entered to advance at Waialae Country Club.
The 28-year-old Punahou and UCLA graduate will play the weekend here for the first time since 2006, when he finished tied for 59th as a member of the Nationwide Tour. It's his first made cut in the Sony since being promoted to a full-time PGA player in 2007.
McLachlin admitted he was more relieved than excited about his execution playing at home.
"I'm so amped up and trying so hard for all the local fans," McLachlin said. "It's just not my way of playing. There's 26, 27 other events throughout the year where I'm out there by myself and I'm just in my focus mode. Now I'm trying to play extra hard. I gotta tone it back a little bit, remember to breathe and calm myself down."
He tees off at 8:43 a.m. with Mark Calcavecchia.
Tadd Fujikawa, a 17-year-old Moanalua junior, played well early in his quest to make the cut in back-to-back years, but unraveled late to shoot even par for the day and remain at 4-over.
PGA veteran and Castle graduate Dean Wilson performed better in his final nine holes than he had at any other point over the first two rounds -- a birdie and no bogies -- but it wasn't enough to pull himself back above the cut at 2-over 142.
Punahou senior Alex Ma'ila Ching maintained his 2-over pace from Thursday to finish tied with Fujikawa. Hawaii's Kevin Hayashi improved his play by 10 strokes from Thursday but was 12-over overall.
All Hawaii golfers could have easily been sitting this weekend out, but McLachlin responded with force after bogeying his first and third holes. He birdied Nos. 7, 9, 10, 12 and 18. He hit 9 of 14 fairways, which was enough to help make up his 3-over 73 from Thursday. He had a chance to eagle 18, but realized the smart play was to settle for a two-putt birdie.
"I was wanting to throw my hands up like Tadd, make that eagle," McLachlin said. "I was trying hard, but I knew I needed to two-putt to make the cut. And that putt's real quick. ... Two-putting was more important than making eagle there. You don't want to three-putt and miss the cut by a stroke."
The Fujikawa trademark fist-pump was on display at times, but even had Fujikawa made the cut at even-par 140, he would have received a paycheck but would not have played under a new PGA rule that keeps more players on the course than actually get to participate in the final two rounds.
He shaved his 4-over deficit to 2 with four holes remaining, setting the stage for a dramatic comeback. But on No. 6 he shanked his approach shot into thick rough right of the green, and when he chipped out he failed to clear a bunker, smacking his putter several times in frustration.
Fujikawa, whose considerable gallery swelled to more than 200 at times, figured it was over at that point.
"Well, I pretty much knew it was gone when I doubled 6," he said. "I had a bad lie in the rough ... hit it in the bunker, then had a bad bunker shot. But it was nice to see how many people supported me. I had a few good shots today, had a few good cheers, and I really enjoyed myself."
Wilson had his chances, too. He narrowly missed a birdie on No. 8 (his second-to-last hole) and a 30-foot eagle putt on the par-5 No. 9 rolled just right.
"Same thing as yesterday," Wilson said with a sigh. "I just made a couple of mistakes and didn't recover. I thought I putted really poorly. Back to the drawing board again for next year."
He hasn't made a cut at Waialae since 2004.
"Yeah (it hurts), my family's here, everyone's here, I'm from Hawaii and I'd like to play well," he said. "Playing on the weekend would be great, and I haven't been able to do that the last few years. It's pretty important to me."
Ching was even at the turn despite a double-bogey on his eighth hole, but couldn't find a way to birdie anything on his back nine. Still, he was thrilled to be playing alongside PGA pros for the first time. His gallery of fans was only slightly smaller than Fujikawa's, and he graciously tossed his ball to a child who requested it on his way to the scoring booth.
"Walking down 9, having the sun set with all those fans around, felt good," Ching said. "I think I played pretty solid, but not good enough for the pros."