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January 5 2013

4:30 PM

First Look: Sony Open in Hawaii


Charles Howell III has had plenty of success, but no victories, at Waialae. (Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)

By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM

• COURSE: Waialae Country Club, 7,044 yards, par 70. Opened in 1927 to help entice travelers to the islands, designers Seth Raynor and Charles Banks borrowed liberally from signature ideas from other courses. The 13th green is bisected by a deep “Biarritz” gully; No.8 has a “redan” green that slopes sharply back-to-front and right-to-left. The Hawaiian Open has been played at Waialae since its 1965 debut on the PGA TOUR schedule.

• FEDEXCUP: Winner receives 500 points.

• CHARITY: Friends of Hawaii Charities, which provides funding for dozens of organizations that benefit women, youth and the needy.

• FIELD WATCH: Defending champion Johnson Wagner, U.S. Open winner Webb Simpson and Keegan Bradley are among 19 participants at Kapalua who are scheduled to play both ends of the Hawaiian double. It’s also the season debut for all 25 of last year’s Web.com Tour graduates, including No.1 Casey Wittenberg, and 20 graduates from last month’s Q-school finals.

• 72-HOLE RECORD: 260, John Huston (1998), Brad Faxon (2001).

• 18-HOLE RECORD: 61, David Toms (3rd round, 2006). Note: Davis Love III carded a 60 in 1994, before course renovations in 1999.

• LAST YEAR: Wagner, who began the final round two shots off the pace, claimed a two-shot triumph after emerging from a Sunday pack that at one point found 11 players within a shot of the lead. Wagner fired nothing worse than a 68 at Waialae, capping the week with a 67 included no bogeys over the final 12 holes. It was Wagner’s third career victory. Charles Howell III, Carl Pettersson, Sean O’Hair and Harrison Frazar tied for second.

• STORYLINES: Howell has been runner-up each of the past two years at Waialae -- three times overall -- but remains in search of his first Sony Open victory. He has three other top-5 finishes in the event. … Though the Sony Open has been the traditional coming-out party for the new class of PGA TOUR rookies, no rookie has won his debut since Waialae went to a January date. That will change, too, with the wrap-around schedule that starts next October.

• SHORT CHIPS: Since the Hyundai Tournament of Champions came to Kapalua in 1999, just one man has captured both ends of the Hawaii double: Ernie Els in 2003. … Wagner was the ninth of the past 14 Sony Open winners to take the trophy after playing the Tournament of Champions the previous week. … The last player in his 20s to capture the Sony Open was Paul Stankowski, back in 1997. … Jerry Kelly (2002) was the last player to make the Sony Open his first PGA TOUR victory.

• TELEVISION: Thursday-Saturday, 7-10:30 p.m. EST (Golf Channel). Sunday, 7-10 p.m. (GC).

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