Full Court Press


Pros build on success
in Hawaii

Sergio Garcia and Jerry Kelly were tied for seventh entering yesterday's third round of the Bay Hill Invitational, this week's stop on the PGA Tour.

Since leaving the island chain two months back with wins at the Mercedes Championships and Sony Open, respectively, the twosome has maintained a high level of play. Kelly barely contained himself after accepting the Sony Open check of $720,000.

It was the first tour victory for Kelly, who said he could hardly wait to play at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, which was barely 48 hours into his future.

Kelly shot an opening-round 64 in the desert and contended through the weekend before finishing fifth. Two weeks later, he tied for eighth at the Buick Invitational in San Diego and completed his West Coast swing with a tie for 29th at the Nissan Open.

Including this weekend, Kelly has made the cut in seven of eight tournaments and is No. 6 on the money list with $1,067,917 in earnings. Not bad for a man who flirted with the fringe of stardom prior to this season.

Garcia is no stranger of the stars. After winning on Maui, he flew over to Oahu to celebrate his 21st birthday. And while his tie for 40th at the Sony Open didn't command any headlines, Garcia came back to the PGA Tour after a month off to finish in a tie for 13th at the Nissan Open.

The flamboyant Spaniard said he would like to finish 2002 as the leading money winner on the American and European tours, which was considered pretty bold talk by the youngster. He is No. 7 on the PGA list with $920,380 in earnings. He figures to cash a pretty good paycheck at the end of today's Bay Hill as well.

His dramatic win over David Toms at the Mercedes didn't leave his American counterpart down for long. Toms came over and finished in a tie for fourth at the Sony. He also finished tied for fifth in match play and is ninth on the money list with $877,364.

HAWAII WINNERS on the senior circuit have fared equally well since leaving this tropical paradise. Tom Kite began 2002 with a victory at the MasterCard Championship on the Big Island. He recently won the Senior Classic and has two ties for fifth as well.

That translates to $608,600 in Senior PGA Tour earnings so far this year for the native Texan. He has four top 10 finishes in five events, which you might think would lead to a No. 1 ranking this early in the campaign. But you would be wrong.

Kite is No. 2, trailing the ageless Hale Irwin. The most successful golfer in Senior history continues to dazzle and amaze his fellow 50-somethings. After finishing in a tie for 24th at the MasterCard, Irwin came over and won the Senior Skins on Maui, pocketing $450,000.

And that doesn't even count toward his official earnings in 2002. Still, he left his second home in Maui to win the Ace Group event two weeks later.

Irwin had two second-place finishes the following two weeks at the Verizon Classic and the Senior Classic. So he took a week off and came back to win last week's Toshiba Classic.

The defending champion at this week's Siebel Classic, Irwin was tied for 15th after Friday's opening round. He is No. 1 on the Senior money list with $735,500. Irwin has always said he drew his strength from Hawaii. It appears to be working for all the golfers who had early success here in the 2002 season as well.

Paul Arnett has been covering sports
for the Star-Bulletin since 1990.
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