OB stakes added overnight at Sony Open in Hawaii
January 14, 2021
By Ben Everill , PGATOUR.COM
- PGA TOUR Officials added white out-of-bounds stakes between the 18th and 10th holes at Waialae Country Club. (Jeff Garrison/PGA TOUR)
HONOLULU, Hawaii – There was a new addition to Waialae Country Club on the eve of the Sony Open in Hawaii – a row of white out-of-bounds stakes between the 18th and 10th holes inside the property.
PGA TOUR Officials took the eleventh-hour step – and sent a text blast to all competitors at around 7 p.m. local time – after seeing a bunch of players cutting the corner off the tee on the par-5 dogleg left 18th by hitting into the 10th fairway.
They were then able to just wedge the ball up and over some palm trees to set up relatively easy eagle looks due to the fact there are none of the usual grandstands during the COVID-19 spectator-free event.
“The funny story was I [was] playing my Pro-Am yesterday and Justin Leonard who is a really good buddy just happened to be on that green we were playing. He goes, "Hey, do you think about going down No. 10?",” Billy Horschel said Thursday after an opening round 5-under 65 had him just three shots back of the morning wave lead.
“In years past that never even crossed my mind. I'm like, "No." Then he said, "Well a lot of guys are. They are having like flip wedges into the green." So, I was like, "Well, maybe I'll have to look at it when I get on the tee."
But somewhere around 7 p.m. last night, we got a text saying that there was an internal OB now on No. 18, which is smart. I think the hole should be played the way it was designed and not take advantage of whatever you want to take advantage of.”
Brendan Steele, who hooked his second shot on the 72nd hole from the fairway a year ago on his way to falling into a playoff he would lose to Cameron Smith, was happy to see the move.
He was particularly happy the stakes run out some 50 yards from the green meaning they’re really only in play off the tee and his wild shot from a year ago would not have been as severely punished.
“The only thing was a little troublesome about it was we didn't know where they were going to be,” Steele said after shooting an impressive 5-under 65 of his own as he looks for redemption.
“I was hoping that they would do the right thing and only put them where guys would try to go in between the trees down 10 fairway and not where if you over-hook one trying to get it going left that it would actually go out of play… they did a good job.
“I wouldn't have been out-of-bounds (last year). But if you know it's out-of-bounds, you probably don't hit it over there, either.”
Defending champion Smith – after an opening 67 – couldn’t resist a little tongue in cheek humor having remembered Steele’s shot last year that ended up getting significant free relief because of the grandstands.
“I think it's a great idea. Too many guys hitting it down there, anyway,” he smirked in fun. “It would be a significant advantage to hit it down 10. I hit the best possible drive today and I had 9-iron in. If I had hit it down 10, I would have had gap wedge in, like 20- or 30-yards’ difference.”
The new penalty area stung at least one player in the opening round with Rory Sabbatini hooking his tee ball left into the death zone before having to re-tee and battle his way to a bogey.