Tuesday, January 8, 2002
Golfers migrateThe Sony Open welcomed six of the top 10 finishers at the Mercedes Championships for this week's PGA Tour event at Waialae Country Club, including winner Sergio Garcia.
to Sony Open
Garcia, Toms and a bunch of
other high-octane golfers come to
Waialae for the full-field PGA event
By Paul Arnett
They are a part of the first full-field tournament of the 2002 season and should have a slight edge over the golfers taking part in their first competition of the season.
"I'm looking forward to playing here this week," said Garcia, who beat David Toms in a playoff Sunday to capture the $720,000 first prize and the new Mercedes that goes with it.
He and Toms, who won last year's PGA Championship, bring a measure of star power to a tournament that doesn't have Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and David Duval. They opted to skip this event every year since Sony took over.
"I've heard some good things about the course changes," Toms said. "I'm looking forward to playing here and seeing how I do. I got off to a really good start at Mercedes. If my golf ball goes another half-roll on the 18th, I win.
"I've had some back problems lately due to a bad disc in my neck, but I'm going to play this week. Definitely."
Other top-10 finishers at last week's winners-only tournament on Maui are defending Sony Open champion Brad Faxon, 2001 Mercedes winner Jim Furyk, and Kenny Perry and Chris DiMarco, who were atop the leaderboard last week before fading down the stretch.
Perry had a chance to join Toms and Garcia in a playoff, but his chip from the front of the 18th green came up short. He sank the birdie putt to finish 17-under, one stroke off the pace.
"I had a great week," said Perry, who led after the second and third rounds. "I had my chances on Sunday. I played steady. I missed the first two greens, but hit the rest of them. I hit a great putt on 17 that I thought was going to go in. I was so close. It's a great way to start the year. Hopefully, I'll have another good week at the Sony Open."
Faxon certainly had a solid week at the Mercedes as he prepares to defend his Sony Open title. He finished ninth by shooting consecutive 71s the first two days and back-to-back 69s over the weekend to finish at 280, some six strokes off the pace.
"I played well," Faxon said. "I shot well in the wind, and I was able to make some putts. It was tough getting used to the Kona winds. It will be interesting to see what kind of wind we have this week at Waialae. This was a good start for me."
Faxon made an eagle each round last year en route to winning the Sony by four shots. It helped him finish in the Top 30 of the tour money winners for the first time since 1997. The Rhode Island resident has eight career wins, none easier than last year's victory here. He led by five strokes after 36 holes and three after 54 en route to a final-round 65 to cruise to the victory.
"It was great to get back into the winner's circle," Faxon said of his lone victory last year. "I like the course and always enjoy coming to Hawaii. As a tour player, you want to get a win so you can be a part of the Mercedes Championships. It makes for a nice two- or three-week stay here in the islands."
Joining the 21 Mercedes players who came over from Maui are big-name stars Fred Couples, Tom Lehman, Corey Pavin and Scott Simpson. In addition to Garcia, Toms, Faxon and Furyk, other brand-name golfers coming over from Maui are Jesper Parnevik, Scott Hoch, Davis Love III and Jeff Sluman, who captured the Sony Open in 1999.