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Sony Open in Hawaii

Tournament Preview

As if starting the season in Maui wasn't tough enough for PGA golfers last week, now they've got to endure Honolulu for the Sony Open in Hawaii which kicks off Thursday at the Waialae Country Club, a 7,068-yard, par-70 course in the state's capital.

Rookie Russell Henley won the event last year, along with a cool $1.008 million. Past winners include Ernie Els, Vijay Singh, Paul Azinger, David Toms and Zach Johnson.

Henley is back to defend his championship this year, ranked 114th in the world. He finished 27th at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions which wrapped up on Monday, his best finish in four events so far this season.

Both the champion and the runner-up from the Hyundai event on neighboring Maui are in the field at Honolulu - winner Zach Johnson and second-place Jordan Spieth, who is turning into a major force on tour, despite being just 20 years old.

Impressively, two of the four Major champions from last year have also made the 5,000-mile trek from the US mainland - Masters champion Adam Scott and PGA Championship winner Jason Dufner. Those two will be paired in a foursome with Matt Kuchar and Rory Sabbatini that tees off at 12:50 p.m. Eastern on Thursday.

Other notable PGA veterans in the field include Singh, Retief Goosen, Justin Leonard, John Daly, and Stuart Appleby.

The field is 144 players in all, with a cut coming at the conclusion of Friday's second round.

01/09/14, Thursday

An overwhelming majority of the field flew west from the mainland USA for the Sony Open in Hawaii which kicked off Thursday.

Not so Sang-Moon Bae, whose instead came east some 4,692 miles from Daegu, South Korea to post a 63 on Thursday to stand atop the tournament's leaderboard after one round.

Bae, who won a PGA tour event for the first time in 2013, shot the 7-under 63 by going 5-under on the front nine and not returning a bogey all day long.

He needed every one of those birdies to fend off the US" Chris Kirk. Kirk was two over through six holes before coming alive with four straight birdies between No. 8 and 12.

He added an eagle on No. 18 to make it a one-hole lead.

The US' Brian Stuard and Ryan Palmer are tied for third at 5-under followed by six men at 4-under including South Africa's Reteif Goosen and the US" John Daly. Daly had just one bogey - that on No. 11 - shooting 3-under of the back nine to finish with a 4-under 66.

Masters champion Adam Scott and PGA Champiionship winner Jason Dufner are among a group tied for 12th at 3-under.

01/10/14, Friday

Thirty-one-year old Brian Stuard isn't particularly well known in the world of professional golf. But if he keeps shooting 65s in every round, that will chagne in a hurry.

The fourth-year pro from Jackson, Michigan, hit a second straight 65 on Friday to take a one-stroke lead at the Sony Open in Hawaii being played at the Waialae Country Club in Honolulu.

Stuard topped out his front nine with an eagle, and closed in his round with a birdie to move to 10-under par at 65-65 - 130, giving him a one-stroke lead over Australia's Marc Leishman and Japan's Hideto Tanihara.

Leishman actually shot the best round of the day, a 6-under 64, as did American Hudson Swafford, who used the strong effort to jump from 65th to a tie for 11th.

Day One leader Sang-Moon Bae of Korea shot an even-par 70 after Thursday's 63, and fell from first to fifth, where he's tied with Chris Stroud, Chris Kirk, Jason Kokrak, Jimmy Walker and Masters champion Adam Scott.

Scott was 4-under for the day and is 7-under for the tournament.

With near-perfect weather conditions, the cut came at 1-under, sending players including Vijay Singh (+2) and Rory Sabbatini (+2) home early.

A whopping 24 players are within five strokes of the lead at the midway point of the tournament, including PGA Championship defender Jason Dufner (5-under); last week's Hyundai Tournament of Champions winner Zach Johnson (5-under) and Justin Leonard (6-under).

After shooting 4-under 66 on Day One, American John Daly struggled to a 3-over 73 on Friday, suffering through a triple-bogey on No. 3. In typical erratic Daly style, his final five holes of the day were: bogey, bogey, double bogey, birdie, eagle.

The wild ride sent Daly from sole possession of fifth place to a tie for 66th, barely surviving the cut.

01/11/14, Saturday

Another day, another name atop the leaderboard at the Sony Open in Hawaii.

After 54 holes, the new man in charge is Chris Kirk, who took a one-stroke lead thanks to a birdie on No. 18 that gave him a 65 on the day.

Kirk started the day tied for sixth but finished the day 12-under for the tournament to give himself a one-stroke lead over the combination of Harris English and unknown Will Wilcox.

English started the day in third and shot a 67 to finish 3-under and improve to 11-under. Wilcox, just 27 years old, came roaring out of nowhere to shoot seven birdies, 10 pars and a bogey to finish with a 6-under 64. He was tied for 22nd at the end of Friday.

The field is incredibly bunched going into the final round, with 17 players within four strokes of Kirk as play began.

Seven different players are two strokes back at 9-under, including seasoned veteran Retief Goosen and Zach Johnson, winner of last week's Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Maui.

A smaller group of five players are tied at 8-under, including 2013 PGA Championship winner Jason Dufner.

The most vexing round of the day game from American John Daly, who fired a 64 to tie Wilcox for the best round of the day.

Daly is now 7-under on the tournament by virtue of a 66-73-64 series.After and early bogey on No. 2, Daly sunk six birdies in an 11-hole stretch.

01/12/14, Sunday

The leaderboard was a crowded one from the opening tee shot on Thursday to the final putt on Sunday at the Sony Open in Hawaii, and American Jimmy Walker, who never saw the lead until the final day was the one who finally took the trophy.

Walker tied the low round of the tournament with a 7-under 63 on Sunday to win the field at the Waialae Country Club in Honolulu, nipping Chris Kirk by a single stroke to rack up 500 FedEx Cup points and just over $1 million.

Walker never hit a bogey on the day and came barreling down the stretch with birdies on 15, 16 and 17. Kirk was just as hot, with birdies on 15, 17 and 18, but his bogey on No. 4 proved to be the difference.

In all, 19 players shot finished at least 10-under, including a rather staggering 12 who tied for eighth at 10-under, including 2013 Masters champion Adam Scott.

Scott fell out of contention on Saturday with a 1-over 71, but bounced back to fire a 4-under 66, overcoming two early bogeys to shoot 5-under on the back nine.

American Jerry Kelly finished third at 15-under, with untimely bogeys also undoing his chance at the title. Kelly was probably the most consistent golfer on the tournament, shooting between 65 and 67 in all four rounds.

He bogeyed No. 1 on Sunday, but fired back with five birdies between No. 5 and 13 before another bogey on No. 14 damaged his chances too severely to recover.

Harris English took fourth at 14-under, followed by Australia's Marc Leishman at 13-under.

Among other famous names, Jason Dufner finished tied for 29th at 8-under and John Daly tied for 32nd at 7-under.

The tour resumes Jan. 16 at the Humana Challenge at The Club at PGA West in La Quinta, California.


Tournament Recap

Growing up in America, it's not easy making your fame with the name of Jimmy Walker, which invokes images of a absurdly skinny, goofy-grinned comedian who declared his love of things with the catch phrase "DY-NO-MITE!" on the long-running sitcom "Good Times".

Walker is about 180-degrees from the other Jimmy Walker, mild-mannered, a graduate of Baylor University and a fan of astronomy.

But he found himself the center of attention with his one-stroke win at the Sony Open in Hawaii on Sunday, his first-ever victory on the PGA Tour.

It took seven years and 187 tournaments to get that first victory. It's also his second top 10 and third top 12 finish of the 2013-2014 season.

It's amazing that Walker even made the cut, much less won the tournament the way he started things out on Thursday.

He bogeyed three of the first six holes, but fortunately birdied No. 1 and 3, as well as No. 9 to make it through that first turn at even par.

He wouldn't bogey another hole until No. 4 on Friday, by which time he had dropped to 4-under.

He followed up his first-round 66 with a pair of 67s to keep himself in contention to make the closing push on Sunday.

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