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Saturday, January 15, 2000

S O N Y_ O P E N _ H A W A I I

Sony Open Hawaii

Lookin' good

'Zinger' extends his lead at the
halfway mark, but he's being
chased by several who've
won here before

Bullet Leaders: The hole-by-hole scorecards
Bullet In the hunt: Past winners still contend
Bullet Local yokels: Ishii, Jacobsen still in

By Bill Kwon


The names atop the Sony Open leaderboard are so familiar to Hawaii's golf fans that it looks like deja vu all over again.

Determining the winner calls for a roundup of the usual suspects.

Paul Azinger shot a 65 yesterday for a 36-hole total of 128 and is halfway to his first victory at the Waialae Country Club after three runner-up finishes in the Hawaiian Open.

His nearest challengers?

Associated Press
Azinger was all smiles after chipping the
ball in from off the green for a birdie.

Jim Furyk and John Huston, two former Hawaiian Open winners. They're five strokes back at 133.

Throw in defending Sony champion Jeff Sluman at 134 and 1992 Hawaiian Open winner John Cook, and it's like old home week.

Seventy-four players made the cut in the PGA Tour's first full-field tournament of the 2000 season.

They had to shoot even-par 140 to make the 36-hole cutoff in order to play the weekend.

Hawaii's David Ishii, who won at Waialae in 1990, and Aaron Bengoechea, the former Kaiser High star, just made it

So did Gary Nicklaus, the son of you know who, making his first start as a full-fledged member of the PGA Tour.

By Craig T. Kojima, Star-Bulletin
Paul Azinger drives on the 10th hole during yesterday's second
round at the Waialae Country Club.

The casualties included 1998 U.S.Open champion Lee Janzen, who missed the cut by one stroke for the second year in a row, and reigning British Open champ Paul Lawrie.

Also, four 1999 champions who played in the Mercedes Championships last week on Maui but found no pot of gold at Waialae - Brad Faxon, Rich Beem, Glen Day and Loren Roberts.

For the second day in a row, it was the "Zinger" providing the most buzz at Waialae, now a leaner and meaner par-70.

Yet Azinger, who's looking for his first tour victory after his successful comeback from cancer in 1994, still shot lights out. His rounds of 63 and 65 matched what Huston shot in setting an all-time PGA Tour record of 28-under-par 260 at Waialae three years ago.

This time, though, 128 is only 12-under par, not 16-under because holes 5 and 13 are now par-4s, not par-5s.

Still, it's some kind of shooting.

"I'm not surprised," said Furyk, who lost ground despite shooting a 67 yesterday. "If he keeps playing like this, he'll be hard to catch."

Associated Press
Chip Beck hits the ball out of the sand onto the third green
of the Waialae Country Club during yesterday's second round.
He failed to make the cut.

Furyk, however, wasn't surprised by Azinger's play.

"Before the cancer, he was the best player in the world. I'm happy for him."

Neither was Furyk surprised by the number of familiar faces on the leaderboard.

"Zinger, Slu and John Huston. John shot 28 under here. He can make birdies. Paul plays great here. Slu hits it low."

Furyk thought the course suits their and his game. "Still, you got to make the good shots."

And Azinger is doing just that.

He bounced back from a bogey on his opening hole with six birdies, one on a chip-in at 10 and three on 20-foot putts with his new 46-inch putter.

Maybe it sticks out of his golf bag, but says Azinger, "It fits nicely in my stomach."

Putting's good and fishing's good for Azinger, who's looking forward to the final 36 holes today and tomorrow.

"I've been in this situation only once before in 1988 at Bay Hill, four shots ahead," he said about his front-running status.

He won. But he won't be disappointed if he doesn't.

"Winning is very difficult. I've never took winning for granted, or never assumed I was going to win again. Never once after every win," Azinger said.

He'd like to win, of course. As anyone else here. But if he doesn't, then it was meant to be, according to Azinger.

"I'm just at the point where I think there's a reason for everything. If it happens to be that I win, I needed to win more than the next guy.

"If somebody else wins and I finish second, then he needed it more than me," he said.

"I'm willing to accept whatever happens. I'll be comfortable whatever happens."

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