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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, January 17, 2010

Palmer, Allenby in lead

 •  Don't shed a tear for classy guy
 •  Wilson hopes to get on roll at Waialae

By Ann Miller
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Ryan Palmer reacts after missing a birdie putt on No. 9. He finished with a 2-under 68.

Photos by GREGORY YAMAMOTO | The Honolulu A

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Robert Allenby chips from the fringe of the 18th, which he parred. He finished with a 67.

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Kevin Hayashi couldn’t work his magic from the day before, shooting 75.

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Moving day was all but motionless yesterday at windy and anything but wild Waialae Country Club.

Robert Allenby and Ryan Palmer traded the lead in a bogey-free final group at the Sony Open in Hawai'i. They finished tied for first at 11-under-par 205 when Palmer birdied the last hole.

Allenby, who hasn't won a PGA Tour event in nine years but captured two international titles last month, birdied the second hole to catch Palmer. He stuck a pair of approach shots within 2 feet to pass him on the 12th.

The Australian finished with his second straight 67 while Palmer had a 68. They are three shots ahead of a fairly familiar group.

Defending champion Zach Johnson, who had third to himself after birdieing three straight around the turn, now shares it with three others after an even-par 70. He needed to make six putts outside 5 feet to shoot that.

Steve Stricker (69), the third-ranked player in the world, and Davis Love III (68), who has finished second here twice, birdied the last hole to seize a share of third. Troy Matteson fired a bogey-free 68, with birdie putts of 19 and 29 feet, to join them.

Stricker figures he needs his best round of the week to win today. After what everyone went through yesterday — only Briny Baird (64), Nathan Green (65) and Charles Howell III (66) got lower than 3-under — he is not alone.

"I got a chance," Stricker said. "That's all you can ask for going into the last day. There are not a ton of guys in between the leader and where I'm at."

By the end there were none, though there are 16 golfers a shot or two behind Stricker. That includes Rory Sabbatini, who closed with a round of 10-under last week at Kapalua and has averaged 65.5 the last four Sundays at Waialae, along with 2007 champ Paul Goydos.

A twosome headed for the start of the Champions Tour season next week on the Big Island is also in the mix. Tom Lehman and Michael Allen, both 50, played together and had matching 68s to grab a share of seventh.

They are the oldest guys here. Two-time Sony champion Corey Pavin is next, followed by Mark Calcavechia (50 in June) and Hilo's Kevin Hayashi (48 in June). Love will be 46 in April.

After making his first cut here in nine tries Friday, Hayashi did not survive the second cut. He is classified as MDF — Made Cut Did Not Finish — and claimed last-place money ($9,900) at 75—216.

Ex-Kāne'ohe resident Dean Wilson will play today, teeing off at 10:28 a.m.. He is tied for 33rd at 69—207 and looking for a top 10 to get him into the next event.

Allenby and Palmer are looking to win, Allenby for the first time on this tour since 2001 — he has 18 international victories — and Palmer for the third time.

He has never finished better than 28th here, but has found a less-pressure philosophy this week — while reading a story about Zach Johnson — that is working remarkably well.

"It's a big help having a three-shot lead," he said. "That's still a lot of shots to make up in one round of golf, especially if the wind blows again. I'm ecstatic to be where I'm at and I couldn't be in a better place right now with my game and my mind out there."

Yesterday, Palmer hit just six fairways, could not get close to the tough pins (an average of 37 feet after his approach shots) and needed 30 putts.

He has also gone 26 holes without bogey and salvaged par from bunkers on 15 and 16. He called the 16th, where his ball snuggled into the right face and he had to "hammer" it out with closed-face 7-iron to 9 feet, the "best par I ever made."

This morning, the Dallas Cowboy season-ticker holder plans to get up early and watch his team play the Minnesota Vikings, then try to "stay in the moment" in a final round.

"It's worked so far," Palmer said. "But tomorrow will probably be a little bit different. I'm not going to lie, I'm going to be a little anxious, probably a little nervous considering the position. I haven't led wire-to-wire since I've been on tour so I'm pretty excited about what's going on."

Allenby, 38 and with two top-10 finishes here, appears more laid back. It was his first bogey-free round on this tour since May and his only real regret was not birdieing either of the par-5s, or getting a feel for the green speed. He also needed 30 putts.

But Allenby is still standing, and in first place, which did not look promising after he sprained his ankle Monday. He is being extremely cautious because rolling his ankle causes the "sharpest shooting pain in the world."

"Obviously I'm very confident with my whole game," Allenby said. "It's just one element that's sort of restricting me a little bit. I did let it go a little bit more today. There were occasions where I hit some wide tee shots where I just felt pain and I just stopped. I couldn't physically stop my swing. I wish I would have.

"But there were times where I just let it go, and I hit some great shots, and I tried to do that a lot more today knowing that today is the day where I need to just move up a little bit more than what I've been doing. I think 3-under today was a pretty good score."

Today Allenby finds out if it is good enough. He admits putting has held him back in the past and believes he has "addressed that situation." Today will be a true test, for his putter and his ankle.


Hilo pro Kevin Hayashi ended up doing much of his own yardage marking after caddie/brother Darren injured an ankle early in yesterday's round. Darren said he got twisted up in a sprinkler hole that made walking the 7,068-yard course painfu. Limping, Darren persisted and finished the round.

For the second straight year, Punahou graduate Parker McLachlin is pledging $50 to the Hawai'i State Junior Golf Association for every birdie he makes in his five stops on the West Coast Swing. McLachlin missed the cut this week, but had seven birdies. Waikoloa Beach Resort, which sponsors McLachlin on tour, matches his pledge, giving the HSJGA $700 in the opening week of Birdies for Juniors. Fans and organizations interested in supporting the program can visit HSJGA.org.

Eight former Sony Open in Hawai'i winners will play in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualālai, which starts Friday on the Big Island. Andy Bean (1980), John Cook (1992), Ben Crenshaw (1976), Hale Irwin (1981), Bruce Lietzke (1977), Mark O'Meara (1985), Corey Pavin (1986 and '87) and Jeff Sluman (1999) are in the winners-only field that opens the Champions Tour's year.

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