HONOLULU – With tee times crunched in order to finish all 36 holes Sunday, players had to go off on both the first and 10th tees in each of Sunday’s two rounds.
That left open the remote possibility of the winner finishing on the ninth hole, just like Derek Lamely did last year when he won at Puerto Rico.
But it appears unlikely to happen Sunday.
Steve Stricker teed off from the 10th tee in the final round and he just eagled the par-5 18th. He’s now at 10 under for the tournament, four shots off the pace currently set by Mark Wilson. He’s the highest player in the leaderboard who started his final round on the 10th hole.
Stricker is tied for fourth, but he’s running out of holes. He’d need to stay hot – he’s 5 under on his last eight holes – then post a number and wait to see if the leaders collapse.
One of Stricker’s playing partners, Tim Clark, is in the same position. He’s 10 under with nine holes remaining and needs to make a charge.
Chris Riley, also teeing off on the 10th hole, is at 9 under for the tournament and even par through the first 11 holes of his final round.
HONOLULU -- Chris Riley went low Sunday morning to move himself into contention to win the Sony Open in Hawaii.
He knows he's going to need to go even lower in the afternoon to actually claim the title.
Riley's 4-under 66 in the third round leaves him at 9 under for the tournament. When he signed his scorecard, he was three shots off the lead, with the leaders still on the course.
Brendon de Jonge also shot a 66 to join Riley at 9 under. They should put them safely inside the top 10 when the third round concludes.
With a quick turnaround for his final round tee time, Riley knows he needs to come out firing.
"I'm excited about the last round," he said after grabbing a quick bite to eat. "I know if I play really well, I'll have a chance. That's what I was playing for."
His strategy for the final round is simple: Fire at the pin.
"Need to make a lot of birdies," Riley said. "There's no wind, so it's going to be pretty low. I know I'm going to have to shoot 7-, 8-under (for the round)."
Riley was in the first group off the first tee Sunday. He played with Ernie Els and Chris Kirk.
Els, a past champion here, has found a rhythm at Waialae. He's been bogey-free for his last 30 holes. Sunday morning, he shot a 3-under 67, leaving him at 8 under.
"We got the best thing of the deal," Riley said about the third round. "We were the first off. Nobody in front of us. Ernie Els and Chris Kirk -- we were just having a good time." – Mike McAllister
Even though they’re playing lift, clean and place at Waialae today, scores aren’t exactly super low. Still, Chris Riley is off to a good start with a 66.
“I'm kind of tentative today, and I usually like to be aggressive,” said Chris Riley, who is two shots off the lead. “First tournament of the year, this is a difficult golf course for guys. I can see how guys start at the Bob Hope where it's kind of just slap it around, wedge it on and it's a birdie putt, where here, par‑70, it's a tough golf course. It's tough to start the year here.”
For Riley, though, it’s a step in the right direction. Last year was the first time he cracked $1 million in earnings since the 2004 season and his three top-10s in 2010 were more than he had in the previous three years combined.
Chris Riley took a big step towards avoiding a return trip to q-school this winter. His closing 65 put him at 13 under with an excellent shot at his second top-10 of the year.
As mentioned before, the big shot for Riley was his eagle on the par-4 14th, when his wedge found the cup from 155 yards.
"[It] went right in the middle, it was perfect," Riley said. "So it felt pretty good, and it feels good to keep creeping back to where I need to be. And you know, it's a stepping stone, so it's going to be a good finish for me."
Chris Riley has just jarred a 155-yard approach on the par-4 14th to get to 12 under and into a tie for third. After kicking off his final round with two bogeys, he's racked up four birdies in addition to the eagle.