2002 Sony Open
Riley, Perry tame winds to share lead
By Ann Miller
Advertiser Staff Writer
While 144 golfers in the PGA Tour's first full-field event worked overtime to go low, Hawai'i's tenacious tradewinds took them left and right in yesterday's first round of the Sony Open in Hawai'i.
Eugene Tanner The Honolulu Advertiser
Kenny Perry, following a putt on the ninth green, characterized yesterday's conditions as a "gentle breeze" en route to sharing the first-round lead with Chris Riley.
Eugene Tanner The Honolulu Advertiser
Jesper Parnevik, Jerry Kelly and 1992 Hawaiian Open champion John Cook are a shot back.
Phil Tataurangi, Jonathan Byrd, Cameron Beckman and Stephen Ames, with one tour victory between them, are tied for sixth. They nosed out a mob at 68 that includes John Huston, Mark O'Meara and Brad Faxon, who have all won at Waialae. A slightly smaller mob, which includes former Sony and Hawaiian Open champions Jeff Sluman, Jim Furyk and Corey Pavin, shot 69.
On a day when persistent kona winds gave way to the prevailing trades, Waialae bent over backwards with gusts up to 25 mph to prevent golfers from breaking par. But these guys are good, as they like to tell you on TV. Nearly half the field (63) goes into this morning's second round at par or better.
Perry's rise is no surprise. He has been a stroke out of a playoff his last two official events the season-ending Tour Championship in November and last week Mercedes Championships, where Sergio Garcia beat David Toms for the Benz.
"I was proud of the way I played last week," Perry said. "I really hung in there. I had the lead Friday and Saturday, and on the front nine Sunday. I've really got to hand it to those guys. They made a lot of birdies coming down the stretch. I did too I birdied three of the last five to get within one. They beat me. I didn't really lose the golf tournament. I finished 17 under."
Perry characterized yesterday as "a gentle breeze" after last week. Riley, who has lived in Las Vegas the past 10 years, also was underwhelmed in relation to the desert storm he often endures.
Riley, 28, was 45th on the money list last year and has yet to win. He hopes the wind will never let up, figuring it provides his best shot at breaking through. He nearly did here in his rookie season, grabbing a share of first with four holes left in the final round in 1999. He ended up tied for seventh.
"I love the conditions," he said. "I like to think I can play well in the wind and in bad conditions. I kind of like it. I just have a good attitude, and I can work the ball better. I like to hit different shots in the wind ... I like the challenge."
He whipped through Waialae without a bogey, while Perry punched in with one bogey and six birdies; only one of his birdie putts came from outside six feet.
Kelly, Parnevik and Cook, who have combined to win more than $336,000 here the past three years, provided a bit more excitement.
Cook eagled the final hole and played the back nine in 5-under.
Parnevik, hitting his driver "pretty crooked", found only six fairways all day and made birdie from five. He saved par once by hitting left-handed to avoid a tree.
Kelly sank seven birdie putts six on the last 11 holes to ease the pain of three bogeys caused by poor putts. He nearly eagled the ninth hole, blasting consecutive drivers, chose to hit from a cart path on the 16th his final bogey and tore the lip off a fairway bunker on the 18th when he "foolishly" hit out with a 4-wood.
In between, he left his drive at the 17th (189-yard, par-3) hanging on the back lip of the cup. "Nobody knows how it missed," Kelly said. "There was a little troll that kicked it out."
A day after his 22nd birthday, Garcia shot 71. Toms, the reigning PGA champion, is at 68.
David Ishii, the 1990 Hawaiian Open champion, led the seven-man local contingent with an even-par 70. Scott Simpson shot 72, Tommy Hines, Kevin Hayashi and Dean Wilson 74, and Keoki Cotner and amateur Jonathan Ota 75.