Monday, January 18, 1999
Tommy Tolles spent more time answering questions about hair color than his golf game at this week's inaugural $2.6 million Sony Open in Hawaii.
Tolles had a few
difficulties off the tee
Had he been able to keep his drives in the fairway during yesterday's final round and come away with his first win, the former Georgia Bulldog would have been able to change all that.
Not that finishing in a second-place tie with David Love III, Jeff Maggert, Lenn Mattiace and Chris Perry was all that bad for the 32-year-old, who led after the first and third rounds.
"But it still hurts not to get that first win because I had the opportunity to do it," Tolles said after shooting a final-round 71. "It's all part of the learning experience, I guess. If I learned anything today, it's that I have to do a better job off the tee."
Tolles got in trouble early and often over the first nine holes. He shot a 3-over 38, thanks in part to a bad drive on the par-4, 459-yard eighth hole that resulted in a crushing double bogey.
"I've always felt more comfortable on the back nine because there aren't as many O.B. (out of bounds) stakes and there are no houses on this side," said Tolles, who shot a 2-under 33 over the final nine holes.
"I wish I could have hit one or two more fairways because that would have made a world of difference. I was able to click from the fairway with the iron shots and I had the putter really going."
Tolles earned $156,000 with the second-place tie. Last year, he won $255,053 en route to finishing 115th on the PGA Tour money list.
"Last year was a real struggle," Tolles said. "I really welcomed what I did this week. As far as the hair color (currently bleached blond), we'll just have to see over the next couple of weeks."
MIXED NUMBERS: Sony Open media relations director Bill Bachran said about 30,000 people had attended the opening six days of the first full-field PGA Tour event, but didn't have yesterday's final figures in hand.
"We had been averaging about 5,000 a day," Bachran said. "We may have had a little more out here for the final round."
First Hawaiian Bank officials believed the crowd for Tuesday's traditional Johnny Bellinger Shoot-Out wasn't as large.
The price hike might have had something to do with it. Last year, golf fans paid $8 on Tuesday through Friday, and $10 over the weekend to see the Hawaiian Open.
Sony Open officials nearly doubled the attendance fees. Fans paid $15 on Tuesday through Friday, which included the Shoot-Out, and $20 over the weekend.
As one First Hawaiian Bank official put it, "People paid twice as much to see the Bellinger Shoot-Out this year, and the crowd was half as large."
The Sony Open did try to soften the increase by offering a half-price presale in December.
LOCAL FLAVOR: Pearl Country Club representatives David Ishii and Greg Meyer won't be able to retire on their earnings this week, but the money they made will still come in handy.
Ishii, who won the 1990 Hawaiian Open, fired a final-round 70 to finish with a four-day total of 283. He wound up in a tie for 48th at 3-over-par. Ishii, who won the Bellinger Shoot-Out for the second consecutive time, pocketed $6,614 for his efforts, twice as much as last year.
Meyer fired a final-round 72 to come in at 285. His 5-over total earned him a tie for 55th, good enough for $5,850.
Although Scott Simpson doesn't call Hawaii home anymore, he still has a strong local following. With his son, Sean, caddying for the first time, Simpson finished in a tie for 64th. His four-day, 287 total earned him $5,460. These days, the former Kailua resident lives in San Diego.
TOUGHEST HOLE: They may have shortened the par-4 sixth hole by 15 yards, but it still played the toughest of any this week with a stroke average of 4.356.
For the week, the hole yielded 22 birdies, 259 pars, 126 bogeys and 20 double bogeys. There was also a lot of talk that changing the 13th from a par-5 to a par-4 would make scoring more difficult, and the PGA Tour pros were correct.
The 478-yard hole was the second-most-difficult with one eagle, 29 birdies, 257 pars, 135 bogeys and eight double bogeys for a stroke average of 4.279. Billy Andrade scored the eagle in the second round.
Not surprisingly, the par-5 18th was the easiest hole of the week with a stroke average of 4.472. The 551-yard hole yielded 17 of the 28 eagles made during the four-day event. There were also 209 birdies and only 13 bogeys on the final hole.
BEST CLOSING: Fred Funk and Dan Forsman had the best closing rounds with 5-under 65s.
Funk, who finished in a tie for fifth at the Mercedes Championships, was able to jump to 12th on this week's leaderboard. It earned him $52,650. Funk entered the final round tied for 31st.
Forsman's 65 was equally effective. He was tied for 55th entering the final 18 holes. He wound up tied for 24th, which earned him $21,580.
Tom Watson and Jimmy Green had the best nine-hole totals. They both fired 5-under 30s on the back side. Green wound up tied for seventh and Watson, who finished second last year at the final Hawaiian Open, finished tied for 16th at 4-under-par.
--By Paul Arnett, Star-Bulletin