McLachlin makes a run at the leaders
Parker McLachlin was in the rough on No. 10, 80 yards from the pin under a thick canopy, and facing a bunker squarely between him and his goal.
With no angle to loft the ball over the bunker, his caddie, Rusty Uresti, urged him to chip back onto the fairway for a straight shot at the cup.
McLachlin dismissed the conservative play, instead drawing upon his years of work and practice at Waialae Country Club since he was 8 years old to attempt an unorthodox -- and risky -- maneuver.
"(I thought), I've been here before, I think I can just run this through the bunker," McLachlin said. "So I just hit this thing and it ran right through the bunker onto the green, 12 feet (away) and I made the putt. So (Uresti) said, 'Well, I guess you've played here before.' "
The Punahou alumnus turned a likely bogey into a birdie on that hole and capped a sublime round with an eagle -- nearly a double eagle -- on No. 18 in front of a vocal gallery. He shot 5-under 65 for the day and moved to 6-under 204 (T-21st place) after the third round of the 2008 Sony Open in Hawaii, the first PGA tournament in Hawaii he's made a cut in since becoming a full-fledged member.
As unlikely as it seemed three days ago -- McLachlin was at one point 5 over late in his first round Thursday, and needed a crucial birdie putt to make the weekend cut by a stroke Friday -- he's in prime position to collect one of his best finishes ever in his second full year. His current best is a tie for fifth at the Turning Stone Resort Championship last year.
None of that matters now. He thinks he has enough left to make a run at K.J. Choi, who sits nine strokes ahead in first place at 15 under. It would take a personal best and then some at Waialae to catch the South Korean, as McLachlin's performance yesterday tied the best he's ever done with the course's par-70 setup. He birdied Nos. 3, 5, 9, 10 and 14 before the eagle on 18, with his only bogeys on 1 and 17.
"I'm just trying to soak this all in," McLachlin said. "This is pretty special, and I think I put myself in a position if I can go and shoot 7 or 8 under tomorrow, I can really be in contention. I figure after making the cut on the number, I at least give myself a chance to really put up a good finish."
He responded after a tough tee shot into a bunker led to a bogey on 17, ending a streak of five birdies to no bogeys. McLachlin cranked his drive on the par-5 18 into the rough 322 yards out, but it turned out to be a blessing -- again. He had a direct line to the green, and hit his approach shot low. It skipped up the fairway 237 yards and rolled up the green and near the hole.
"Well, I had a good lie in the rough -- that always helps," he said. "I just tried to scoot one out and let it run. Fortunately I got a couple of good bounces, and from everybody's reaction up here (at the gallery) it looked like it almost went in, almost lipped out."
He had to adjust to the swift pace of his partner, Mark Calcavecchia, who seemed to be speedwalking the course, leading to a 3-hour round. But McLachlin was dialed in and kept to his deliberate rhythm on his shots.
"You know, Mark plays fast, almost ... uncomfortable fast," McLachlin said of the veteran. "I kind of got used to it after the second or third hole. He's just always ready to hit and I'd finish putting out and be walking and he's already putting. I'm ready for like a massage or something -- legs haven't walked that fast in a while."
After pausing to think, McLachlin couldn't recall finishing that well on the course he's played countless times.
"No. I mean, you'd like to birdie the last couple or birdie the last three, but to finish on an eagle ... lunch tastes a lot better. "Let's just put it that way. It puts me in a good place going into tomorrow."