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Newz Forum: GOLF: Hole-in-one highlights Maruyama's lead

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posted on Jan, 16 2005 @ 12:39 PM
HONOLULU -- Shigeki Maruyama didn't panic when he made a double bogey on the first hole and quickly lost his one-shot lead in the Sony Open. He simply figured he would get it back with a couple birdies.

Turns out it only took one swing.

Maruyama made a hole-in-one on the 202-yard fourth hole, part of a wild day at windy Waialae Country Club that kept his large contingent of Japanese fans thoroughly entertained until his 40-foot eagle putt on the 18th hole Saturday stopped on the edge of the cup.

The tap-in birdie gave him a 68 and left him in the same place he started -- with a one-shot lead.

"It was a really bad start," Maruyama said. "I tried to think positive things. Fortunately, I had a hole-in-one. That really saved my game. I could think positive after that."

He was at 10-under 200, with plenty of work left.

Brett Quigley saved par after driving into the TV compound and shot a 68, leaving him one shot behind with a great chance to end his 0-220 streak on the PGA Tour.

Not many are better prepared. Quigley spent the last month playing golf with his family -- including uncle Dana Quigley on the Champions Tour, which means he played every day. He's trying to treat the first full-field event of the year as one of those marathon golf sessions with his uncle.

"We all have a tendency out here (to think), 'Oh my gosh, it's a PGA Tour event. You have to play perfect.' In reality, it's not even close to that," Quigley said. "I haven't attached any meaning to anything. And that's when I play well."

Paul Azinger, the 2000 Sony Open champion, worked his low, penetrating ball flight to perfection in the wind. He was among four players who had a share of the lead at one point, finished with nine straight pars and had a 67 to finish two shots behind.

"If it's my time to do it, I'll do it," Azinger said. "I haven't gotten ahead of myself yet."

Among those in the large crowd following Maruyama was Isao Aoki, inducted last year into the World Golf Hall of Fame and the last Japanese player to win the Sony Open. Maruyama was 14 when he watched Aoki hole a wedge for eagle on the last hole to beat Jack Renner by one.

"I saw him," Maruyama said. "It gives me great pressure."

He could also get that looking behind him on the leaderboard. Among the seven players within five shots of the lead was Vijay Singh, the No. 1 player in the world, who quietly surged into contention with a 67.

Singh might have been closer except for taking two shots to get out of a bunker on No. 16, courtesy of a plugged lie, and missing a 6-foot birdie on the last.

For most of the contenders, the first full-field event of the year is ripe with opportunity.

# Quigley is the only player among the top seven who has never won.

# Azinger finished No. 126 on the money list last year and does not have full status for the first time since he won Q-school 20 years ago.

# Former Masters champion Larry Mize also has no status. He got a sponsor's exemption to the Sony Open, shot a 64 on Saturday and was at 7-under 203, along with Robert Gamez (68).

# Charles Howell III also shot a 64 and was another shot behind.

Ernie Els took himself out of contention for a record third straight victory at the Sony Open. He had to rally on the back nine for an even-par 70, leaving him eight shots behind.

Otherwise, the Sony Open got back to normal -- all 78 players who made the cut are men, all have driver's licenses.

Fifteen-year-old Michelle Wie showed up at Waialae, but only to do a television interview with a Japanese network.

"We're on our way to the mall," father B.J. Wie said. "She's meeting friends to go shopping."

The electricity came from Maruyama, who had a large following and kept them in suspense all day.

Quigley looked as though he might drop out of the pack. He drove into the trees on No. 3 and had to scramble for bogey, then missed a 3-foot birdie putt on the next hole. But he kept it together.

He surged into the lead with three straight birdies, all inside 10 feet. Then after dropping a shot on the 15th by missing the green, he drove into the TV compound on No. 16 and saved par with a tough 12-footer to easily keep in range of his first PGA Tour victory.




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