6 clog top of Sony leaderboard


POSTED: Friday, January 15, 2010

About the time Troy Merritt was getting comfortable in his crib, Davis Love III was earning his PGA Tour card.

A quarter-century later, the talented twosome are part of a six-man contingent tied for the lead at 5-under 65 entering today's second round of the $5.5 million Sony Open in Hawaii. Defending champion Zach Johnson—paired with Love—Ryan Palmer, John Merrick and Robert Allenby make up the other parts of this diverse group that typifies the first full-field event on tour.

High winds greeted the golfers going off early yesterday on the tricky Waialae Country Club course. Four of the six leaders were among the early groups, with Allenby and Merrick the only ones among the afternoon pairings able to decipher the breezes that began the day due north, but shifted to trades in the early afternoon.

World No. 3 Steve Stricker overcame a 2-over start to close with a 4-under 66 that left him tied for seventh with nine other golfers, including Masters champion Angel Cabrera and 50-year-old Tom Lehman. In all, 45 golfers are in the 60s, including University of Hawaii sophomore T.J. Kua, who is the lone amateur in the field. He birdied two of his last three holes to finish in red figures.

This week's event is a good mixture of crusty veterans and new kids on the block. Merritt, who attended Boise State and qualified for the tour in December by winning Q-school, has only played the course twice.





        Through the first round at Waialae Country Club, par 70:




PlayerScoreTo par
Ryan Palmer31-34—65-5
Zach Johnson34-31—65-5
Davis Love III32-33—65-5
Troy Merritt32-33—65-5
Robert Allenby34-31—65-5
John Merrick32-33—65-5





Love couldn't count how many rounds he has here, but suffice to say it's more than two. The 60 he shot 15 years ago is still the course record.

Love began his new year with birdies on the first two holes en route to a bogey-free round. Merritt had a square on his scorecard with a bogey-5 at the par-4 13th, but he more than erased that rare error with six birdies. Playing beyond his years, Merritt's practice round on Tuesday was all he needed to decipher the par-70 course.

“;I was pretty nervous on the first tee,”; Merritt said. “;I always have a few nerves on the first tee, but it was a little bit different this time. My heart was in my throat. I was able to hit one right down the middle.”;

More importantly, he rolled in the 7-footer for par. He carded birdies at Nos. 3, 5 and 9 on the front and at Nos. 10, 11 and 18 on the back. His swing got a little loose, starting with the bogey at 13, and lasting through 16. But instead of going 3 over in that stretch, Merritt held it together to share the lead in his first event as a full-fledged tour member.

“;You know my fiancee asked me what do you want to accomplish (in the opening round),”; Merritt said. “;I said I would be ecstatic if I could go out and shoot 3-under par. I wasn't really thinking about that today, but that's what I told her and things went way better than I thought they could have gone today. I'm happy with it.”;

You won't find any frown furrowing Johnson's brow. After a slow start that left him 1 over for his round after his opening seven holes, he birdied the last two on the front nine and four on the back to pick up right where he left off last year.

“;I'm trying to forget about those results from last year,”; Johnson said. “;But I'm trying to remember the positive vibes, if you will—some of the feelings that I had with my shots. So, yes, there were some similarities in that regard. But if I dwell in the past too much, I usually start to back up in the wrong direction.”;

A couple of times Allenby headed in the wrong direction, thanks in part to a nasty ankle sprain he suffered Monday. But he overcame it with his best round since the Sony began in 1999.

“;My putting was the best part of my day,”; Allenby said. “;It's the same as I left off last year. I don't know if you want to talk about that, but the end of last year was a good way to finish with a couple of wins.”;

Palmer and Merrick are also in the mix. Both mastered the winds that began hard from the north when Palmer was on the course, but had switched to the normal tradewind flow by the time Merrick teed it up.

“;It was blowing pretty hard right up to the last hole,”; Merrick said.


Sony Open scores

At Waialae Country Club

Purse: $5.5 million

First Round

Note: Tom Gillis failed to complete first round due to darkness

Ryan Palmer31-3465
Zach Johnson34-3165
Davis Love III32-3365
Troy Merritt32-3365
Robert Allenby34-3165
John Merrick32-3365
Jeff Quinney33-3366
Carl Pettersson34-3266
Pat Perez34-3266
Angel Cabrera34-3266
Shane Bertsch33-3366
Tom Lehman32-3466
Steve Stricker35-3166
Brian Stuard32-3466
Roger Tambellini33-3366
Martin Flores32-3466
Ricky Barnes34-3367
Michael Allen35-3267
Troy Matteson34-3367
Chad Campbell37-3168
Stewart Cink32-3668
Sean O'Hair34-3468
Stephen Ames37-3168
Bob Estes36-3268
WC Liang34-3468
Ryuji Imada36-3268
Brian Gay34-3468
Rory Sabbatini34-3468
Mark Wilson34-3468
Ryuichi Oda34-3468
Kevin Johnson35-3368
Jason Dufner36-3369
Briny Baird37-3269
Bubba Watson35-3469
Chris Tidland34-3569
Chad Collins34-3569
Marc Leishman33-3669
Joe Ogilvie34-3569
Ernie Els35-3469
Vijay Singh34-3569
Retief Goosen36-3369
Graham DeLaet32-3769
Blake Adams35-3469
Spencer Levin34-3569
T.J. Kua35-3469
John Rollins35-3570
Y.E. Yang32-3870
Matt Kuchar36-3470
Justin Leonard36-3470
Woody Austin34-3670
Chris Baryla34-3670
Aaron Goldberg34-3670
Fredrik Jacobson37-3370
Ben Curtis36-3470
Chez Reavie35-3570
David Toms34-3670
Dustin Johnson37-3370
Omar Uresti37-3370
Brian Davis36-3470
Jeff Klauk36-3470
Rich Barcelo34-3670
Matt Bettencourt32-3971
Corey Pavin36-3571
Bryce Molder36-3571
Boo Weekley35-3671
Nathan Green34-3771
Richard S. Johnson34-3771
Jim Carter35-3671
Jerod Turner34-3771
Matt Jones37-3471
Chris Wilson36-3571
Roland Thatcher34-3771
Dean Wilson36-3571
Webb Simpson36-3571
Tim Clark35-3671
Mark Calcavecchia36-3571
K.J. Choi35-3671
Nick O'Hern37-3471
Daisuke Maruyama37-3471
Josh Teater37-3471
Cameron Tringale36-3571
Henrik Bjornstad37-3471
Nick Mason38-3371
George McNeill39-3372
Jeff Gove37-3572
Parker McLachlin35-3772
D.J. Trahan34-3872
Stuart Appleby36-3672
Tim Petrovic34-3872
Steve Wheatcroft35-3772
Cameron Percy35-3772
Tadd Fujikawa37-3572
Ted Purdy36-3672
Justin Rose37-3572
Paul Goydos36-3672
Cameron Beckman35-3772
Greg Kraft38-3472
Bo Van Pelt35-3772
Brenden Pappas35-3772
Brendon de Jonge35-3772
John Huston34-3973
Jay Williamson38-3573
Bill Haas37-3673
Charlie Wi38-3573
Daniel Chopra39-3473
Mathias Gronberg38-3573
Michael Letzig36-3773
John Daly37-3673
Kevin Na35-3873
Derek Lamely35-3873
David Lutterus34-3973
Brett Quigley39-3473
Johnson Wagner35-3873
Charles Howell III36-3773
Jeff Maggert38-3573
Jason Day35-3873
Scott Piercy39-3473
Kris Blanks37-3673
Chris Riley39-3574
Jerry Kelly38-3674
Alex Prugh36-3874
Luke Donald39-3574
Kevin Hayashi38-3674
Jesper Parnevik41-3475
Rich Beem37-3875
Brad Faxon38-3775
Lucas Glover35-4075
Jonathan Byrd38-3775
Rickie Fowler40-3575
Garth Mulroy39-3675
Scott McCarron41-3475
Shigeki Maruyama38-3775
Jimmy Walker38-3775
Jeff Overton37-3875
Harrison Frazar40-3676
Justin Bolli39-3776
Billy Horschel36-4076
Kaname Yokoo37-3976
D.A. Points39-3877
Tim Wilkinson37-4077
Steve Lowery41-3677
Marc Turnesa40-3777
Nicholas Thompson42-3779
Tom GillisDNF (darkness)