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    • Exciting Sony Open Launches 2004 PGA TOUR Season

    The Sony Open in Hawaii 2004, January 12-18, launches Hawaii's and the PGA TOUR's wonderful world of exciting pro golf with the first full field PGA TOUR event of the year. The Sony Open in Hawaii features over 140 internationally famed pros competing for the $864,000 victor's share of the overall $4,800,000 purse. The tournament played at the par-70, 7,060 yard Waialae Country Club golf course marks the 39th consecutive year that this oceanside golf facility, just minutes from the visitor paradise of Waikiki, has hosted PGA TOUR pros in a prime worldwide televised tournament event.

    Ernie Els, the internationally famed pro golfer from South Africa, created an historic golfing moment at the 2003 Sony Open with a 43-foot "it had eyes" birdie putt in a tense two extra holes playoff against American born Aaron Baddeley from Australia. Els had dramatically won the 2003 Sony Open in Hawaii, his second tournament in two weeks in the 50th State after he had won the Mercedes Championships the week previously on Maui. His back-to-back victories earned him $1,810,000 in just two weeks time but gave Hawaii spectators and the global viewing audience a moment to remember.

    "The Big Easy" had to work hard for this victory and became the first golfer in 14 years to capture the first two PGA TOUR events of the season. Steve Jones in 1989 won the MONY Tournament of Champions and the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic on back-to-back weekends. Chris DiMarco finished in third place just two strokes off the pace while defending 2002 Sony Open champion Jerry Kelly showed great course skills finishing in fourth place tied with Robert Allenby at 268 four strokes behind the winner.

    Els savored not only the tightly fought victory but also the winner's check for $810,000. However, the biggest winners of the Sony Open in Hawaii were the charity beneficiaries who received a total of $800,000 in grants from the Friends of Hawaii Charities, the Sony Open in Hawaii host for the past five years. During this time worthy Hawaii non-profit entities have received a total of $3,000,000 in charity funds from the Friends. Under the direction of Friends president, Anthony R. Guerrero, Jr., executive vice president of the First Hawaiian Bank, and with the expansive assistance of Charity Partner, The Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, Inc., the Sony Open in Hawaii tournament has proven that golf can make a positive difference in the lives of many.

    The Sony Open in Hawaii 2004 will feature a field of internationally famed members of the PGA TOUR -- a number of whom will be playing for the second week in Hawaii having been eligible for the 2004 Champions-only field at the previous week's Mercedes Championships at Kapalua, Maui.

    Waialae's par-70 course honed into pro-quality playing conditions by groundskeeper Dave Nakama and his staff received honors in 2002 by having two of the top-60 toughest holes played on the 2002 PGA TOUR. In 2002 Waialae, had tournament holes-numbers 2 and 6- rated 47th and 59th most difficult playing holes on TOUR, placing them in the top 4.5 and 5.7 % of all 1,026 holes played on the professional golf circuit during the 49 officials events in 2002. During the 2003 Sony Open holes 1 and 5 were ranked the top two toughest playing holes in the tournament. Hole number 1 the 448-yard par-4 registered 7 triple bogeys and 9 double bogeys with only 25 birdies, 255 pars and 145 bogeys, while hole number 5, a 466-yard, par-4, delivered 14 double bogeys and 113 bogeys along with 25 birdies and 289 pars.

    A week of entertaining and fun-filled activities is available for spectators with Million Dollar Shot finalist qualifiers determined on Sunday, January 11; the Sony Dream Cup Pro-Am on Monday, January 12; Professional practice rounds and First Hawaiian Bank's Pro-Junior Golf Challenge on Tuesday, January 13; the official Sony Open in Hawaii Pro-Am all day Wednesday, January 14, featuring 50 leading PGA TOUR pros and 200 amateurs and culminating with the Thursday through Sunday, January 15-18, four rounds of the professional Sony Open in Hawaii golf tournament action. Following tournament play on Sunday afternoon, the finals of the Million Dollar Shot will be held.

    Admission will be free Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday through Sunday admission is only $10 per person per day if purchased in advance and $15 per person per day if purchased at the gate. Children 12 years and younger will be admitted free when accompanied by an adult with a ticket. Sponsor, Tournament or other information is available by contacting Sony Open headquarters, 808-523-7888 or its website, www.friendsofhawaii.org.

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