Tom Lehman has won five times on the PGA Tour, including the 1996 British Open. He is ranked among the worlds Top 10 and considered one of the worlds finest players.
But here, Lehman is a man unfulfilled. Yesterdays runner-up finish to Brad Faxon gives him six top-six finishes at Waialae Country Club without a win.
|Sony Open runner-up Tom Lehman enjoys playing at Wai'alae Country Club bunkers and all. Now, if he can just get his first win there...
Gregory Yamamoto The Honolulu Advertiser
Lehman admits he loves it here, but would love it more if he could break through. "I like the course," Lehman said. "If they think about moving this to a different course in the future, Ill be very upset. I like the whole setup. Its such a great place to be. Staying at the Kahala (Mandarin) over there and the course right here, its a great week. Normally, when youre feeling comfortable and enjoy being somewhere that much, you play well.
"Ive always hit the ball reasonably well and made enough putts to finish real high, but never quite enough to win. Thats disappointing to me."
It also puts him in good company. Most golfers who have consistently played well here have eventually won. Faxon lost a playoff in 1996 and Jack Renner rallied to win the year after he was left dejected in the scoring tent by Isao Aokis miracle eagle.
Paul Azingers persistence in paradise was similar to Lehmans. Before he won last year, he had 10 Top 25 finishes here, including five in the top three.
"At least Paul won it once," Lehman said. "Maybe next year."
When Faxon caromed a drive off a thin palm tree on the 10th hole yesterday, he said, "All I could do was laugh. I just laughed."
Lining up for his second shot, Faxon recalled, "I told myself: Dont hit the tree. Do anything but hit the tree. And, of course, I hit it. I hit it right in the middle. Exactly."
Faxon managed to save par and preserve a two-stroke lead over Lehman. "That was pretty big," Faxon said. "I could have fallen apart there."
Faxons victory qualified him for the Mercedes Championships next January at Kapaluas Plantation Course, and the U.S. Open. Any multiple winner of a PGA Tour event, from June 5, 2000 to June 3, 2001, receives an Open exemption.
"Am I in the U.S. Open?" Faxon asked the media yesterday, totally oblivious. "Yeah."
Next on his 2001 golf hit list: Remaining in the World Golf Rankings Top 50 through the Genuity Championship (March 1-4) to receive an invitation to the Masters, and earning a spot on the Ryder Cup team.
Brad Faxons $720,000 paycheck gives him $8,750,767 in his career and moves him into the Top 25 in career money. . . . In the first three weeks of the season, Ernie Els has finished fourth (World Match Play Championship), third (Mercedes Championships) and third (Sony Open). Without winning, Els has earned $775,000. . . . Waialae Country Clubs remaining par-5s (Nos. 9 and 18) were by far the easiest holes on the course during the tournament. The average score on the final hole was 4.411 more than half a shot under par while the ninth played to 4.443. The toughest hole was No. 2, a 426-yard par 4 that played to an average of 4.344. Faxon pitched in from 70 feet for birdie on the second hole yesterday. . . . The average score this week at Waialae was 70.148.
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