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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, January 9, 2006

Kapalua will get Mercedes extension

 •  Appleby rules as King of Kapalua

By Ann Miller
Advertiser Staff Writer

KAPALUA, Maui This is the last year of a four-year commitment between Mercedes-Benz USA, Kapalua Land Company, the PGA Tour and ESPN. Organizers announced at Friday's tournament party that they have been told the event would return to Kapalua for the next four years, and possibly six years depending on the new television contract the tour is negotiating.

Gary Planos, Kapalua Resort vice president and tournament chair, said no final announcement would be made until after the tour finishes negotiations. That could happen as early as this week. If the TV contract runs six years, it could also impact the Sony Open in Hawai'i, which announced a four-year extension late last year.

Mercedes has been the title sponsor since 1994. The tournament moved to Kapalua's Plantation Course in 1999.


Sony Open in Hawai'i week opens today with the Sony Dream Cup Pro-Am at Waialae Country Club, starting at noon. Michelle Wie is taking the week off from classes at Punahou. She will play in the Dream Cup, has a practice round tomorrow, plays her first Sony Pro-Am as a pro Wednesday and tees off in her third Sony Open Thursday.

The 16-year-old will be joined by all but six of the players from the Mercedes Championships, along with 120 other pros and Kane'ohe amateur Brandan Kop.

There is no admission charge today and tomorrow.

Vijay Singh will defend his championship. He beat Ernie Els by a shot last year. Els, who won the 2003 and 2004 Sony Opens, is not playing this year.


Stuart Appleby won $1,080,000 yesterday, along with a Tiffany Trophy and 2007 Mercedes-Benz S550. He now owns three Mercedes, winning an SL500 in 2004 and a CLS500 last year. This year's prize wheels are a total redesign of the company's flagship sedan.

"I guess I'll drive one a little bit, go get in the other one, drive the other one, park that one, drive the other one," Appleby joked. "Got to keep them all loose."

Or, he could hold on to them for his kids. Stuart and Ashley Appleby's first child, Ella, celebrates her first birthday Thursday. Their second is due in March.

Aside from Mercedes, the only PGA Tour event Appleby has won the past six years is the 2003 Las Vegas Invitational.


Kapalua's Plantation Course played to an average score of 71.03 its first seven years on Maui. This year, the average score was 73.893, with only two rounds in the 60s and 11 in the 80s.

The front nine, which is par-36, played nearly as tough as the par-37 back nine. The difference was 37.420 to 37.473.

Jason Gore broke 80 yesterday for the first time this season, cruising in with a 79 to finish at 28-over. His reward was the $70,000 last-place prize.

Yesterday was the third playoff in the eight years Mercedes has been on Maui. Tiger Woods beat Ernie Els in 2000 and Sergio Garcia outlasted David Toms in 2002.

Stuart Appleby was the Astra Zeneca Charity Challenge winner this week, for holding the lead going into the final round. For Appleby's performance, AstraZeneca will donate $100,000 to The American College of Gastroenterology. The season-long competition will donate $3.5 million to designated health care charities. AstraZeneca is an "international healthcare business involved in research, development, manufacture and marketing of prescription pharmaceuticals."

Reach Ann Miller at amiller@honoluluadvertiser.com.