Azinger uses old clubs


POSTED: Friday, January 16, 2009

Paul Azinger fashioned a 2-under-par 68, thanks to the help of some old friends—the clubs he used to win the 2000 Sony Open in Hawaii.

“;That exact set took me to being a Ryder Cup player again,”; said Azinger, who played in the morning and scrambled to a strong round despite making just four of 14 fairways and eight of 18 greens. “;I took them out and got the rust off.”;

He birdied holes No. 2, 7 and 12 after bogeying No. 1.

Azinger said he wants to take a break from using sponsors' “;equipment for the money.”;

“;I just want to play with what I want to play with for a while,”; said the winner of 12 PGA Tour events, including the 1993 PGA Championship. “;Every club in there is my favorite.”;

Azinger, who has made the cut the past four years here, finished in a tie for 32nd last year. The 2008 Ryder Cup captain was set to tee off at No. 10 in today's second round at 12:50 p.m. with Eric Axley and Matt Kuchar.


Maruyama likes Waialae

This is the 11th time Japan's Shigeki Maruyama has teed it up at the Sony Open. In his 10 previous appearances, Maruyama has missed the cut only twice and has three top-10 finishes. The first-day leader opened with a 5-under 65, thanks to six birdies and one bogey on a solid opening round.

Last year, Maruyama battled physical injuries that forced him to withdraw from five of 18 events. He said he went home last September to try to heal his body. Because the courses are so long on the PGA Tour, Maruyama was forced to overswing and it caused him some knee and shoulder problems. His tie for 25th at the Sony Open was the best all year, as he earned only $160,175 to finish 207th on the money list.

“;The most difficult change was the physical part,”; Maruyama said. “;I had to go back and really just start from scratch. I had some injuries. The physical condition, the balance wasn't there. So I didn't go to the driving range when I went back in September to Japan. I stretched a lot, rested, got my body back in shape in order to work on some swing changes.”;


Els has bad round

Two-time Sony Open champion Ernie Els made his return to Waialae for the first time since he finished second to Vijay Singh in 2005.

His 2-over 72 yesterday is only the second time he had a round above par here in 21 tours of the country club course.

In five trips here, he has never finished worse than fifth and said, “;The key to playing well here is to stay patient. If you try to do too much, this course will make you pay for it.”;

Els finished in a tie for sixth at last week's Mercedes-Benz Championship won by Geoff Ogilvy.


Campbell forgets to sign up

Chad Campbell flew all the way to Hawaii and only got to play one round of golf.

And it wasn't even at Waialae.

In a fluke start to his season, Campbell forgot to sign up for the Sony Open and didn't realize it until he had made the 8-hour flight from Dallas to Honolulu.

“;Not good,”; Campbell said yesterday from his home outside Dallas. “;I had actually thought about it on the plane, that there was a chance I didn't commit. I found out when I got off the plane.”;

Campbell landed Saturday afternoon. The deadline to enter a tournament is Friday afternoon.

Worse than the trans-Pacific flight was missing a tournament where Campbell was the runner-up three years ago. He is at No. 64 in the world ranking, and was hopeful of a good start to the year to secure a spot in the Accenture Match Play Championship late next month.

“;It's one of my top five favorite tournaments we play all year,”; Campbell said.


Two withdraw

John Huston, who won the last United Airlines Hawaiian Open in 1998 and set the record for the lowest total in relation to par at the time on tour, withdrew yesterday because of an arm injury after shooting a 9-over 79.

Darron Stiles withdrew as well after shooting a 78 in the opening round, citing personal reasons.


Howell III in contention

Charles Howell III was among a group of six golfers to shoot 3-under 67 yesterday, two shots off Maruyama's pace.

Howell had cashed his first seven years playing here, before missing the cut last January. He has finished tied for second, third and fourth over the years.

“;I do like it here,”; said Howell, after closing his round with one of four birdies on the day. “;(The course) makes you think the whole way around. When it's like this, you're not going to run over the course and get a whole bunch of birdies. It takes a bit of grinding.