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Maruyama finishes wild round in same spot

Posted: Sunday, January 16, 2005

HONOLULU — Shigeki Maruyama started with a double bogey, recovered with a hole-in-one and finished in the same place he started — with a one-shot lead Saturday in the Sony Open.

Maruyama kept a large contingent of Japanese fans entertained to the very end, nearly reaching the par-5 18th in two for a simple birdie that gave him a 2-under 68 in more blustery conditions at Waialae Country Club.

He was at 10-under 200, with plenty of work left to collect his fourth PGA Tour victory.

Brett Quigley, winless in 220 starts on tour, settled down after a tentative start for a 68 that put him one shot behind and in the final group Sunday with Maruyama.

Paul Azinger, the 2000 Sony Open champion whose low, boring shots are ideal for this wind, made all pars on the back nine but still shot a 67 and was at 8-under 202.

Seven other players were within five shots of the lead, including the No. 1 player in the world.

Vijay Singh, a forgotten man the first two days with lackluster play and the presence of 15-year-old Michelle Wie, quietly surged into contention with a 67 that put him four shots behind. He 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.

Azinger finished No. 126 on the money list last year and no longer has exempt status. A victory would give a two-year exemption and let him pick his schedule around his TV work.

Former Masters champion Larry Mize also has no status. He got a sponsor's exemption to the Sony Open, shot a 64 on Friday 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.

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 until his long eagle putt on the 18th stopped on the edge of the cup.

He lost his one-shot lead after one hole, driving into right rough, laying up and missing the green to take double bogey. He got it right back with a hole-in-one, a 6-iron from 202 yards on No. 4 that produced the loudest roar of the week at Waialae.

By then, the tournament was wide open.

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.

Quigley and Azinger both squandered birdie chances on the final hole, Quigley with a poor shot from the fairway bunker, Azinger with a heavy pitch from in front of the green.

Both have one more day, and 18 holes with as many as 15 players still in the hunt.

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

Divots: Remember the orange- and lime-colored golf balls that were all the rage 20 years ago? John Cook might have been first to use a black ball on the PGA Tour. It's the same Nike One Black that has been around, but the company had it painted black. Cook said all the markings were approved by the USGA, and he only used it on the par-3 17th. ''We weren't quite sure how it would look in the rough,'' Cook said. He picked one of the toughest par 3s at Waialae, but gave the ball a good report. ''It looked like a bird going up in the air,'' he said. ... Craig Stadler (67) and Dick Mast (69) are tied as low seniors, both at 3-under 207. Peter Jacobsen shot a 70 and was at 210, while Tom Kite had a 69 and was at 1-over 211.



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