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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, March 5, 2010

Two share lead in Honda golf


Associated Press

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser
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Alexandre Rocha nearly stopped playing golf last year, until two moves by the International Olympic Committee changed his mind.

The world's 711th-ranked player who needed to survive a pre-qualifier, then a Monday qualifier, then a playoff, just to get into the field at PGA National this week shot a 4-under 66 yesterday, one shot back of Nathan Green and Michael Connell after the first round on a windy and unseasonably cool first day at the Honda Classic at Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

"I needed a day like today like, you have no idea," Rocha said. "And it was for nobody. It's for myself."

The Honda is only his fourth PGA Tour event; the last was in 2003, and he's never made a cut. He lost his European Tour card last year and got status earlier this year on the Asian Tour, only after deciding that he wanted to continue playing golf for a living.

The IOC had much to do with that when they awarded the 2016 Summer Olympics to his native Brazil, then added golf to that program.

Defending champion Y.E. Yang got off to a rough start struggling to a 9-over 79.

BASEBALL

ZITO PLUNKS FIELDER, BUT NOT ON PURPOSE

After a long winter, there's nothing like taking a pitch in the middle of the back to get the bad blood flowing again.

Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder was the target of apparent retaliation yesterday when he was hit by the first pitch from San Francisco left-hander Barry Zito in the first inning of a 5-3 victory by the Giants yesterday at Scottsdale, Ariz.

The Giants had been simmering since Sept. 6, when Fielder celebrated a walk-off home run against them at Milwaukee's Miller Park by acting like a bowling ball and "knocking over" his teammates, who fell like bowling pins.

There had been talk that payback might occur.

"My fastball was running in and it just got away from me," Zito said. "It's not like we've thought about (the celebration) for months and months."

Fielder might not be so quick to forget. He said he didn't expect to be hit, but was irritated by what occurred. After the latest heavily scrutinized incident with a pitcher, Fielder said he is "working on growing up."