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DeLaet takes early Sony Open lead

Pettersson, Choi among those two strokes back at Waialae Country Club

January 13, 2012
By DOUG FERGUSON , The Associated Press

HONOLULU - Graham DeLaet has never been happier to be on the PGA Tour, and it showed Thursday in the Sony Open.

One year after back surgery that made him wonder if he could ever play golf again, DeLaet chipped in for eagle and twice holed 35-foot birdie putts for a 7-under 63 that gave the Canadian a two-shot lead at Waialae Country Club.

Carl Pettersson and former Sony Open champion K.J. Choi were among those at 65, while Kapalua winner Steve Stricker, Webb Simpson and Bud Cauley were among those at 66.

Article Photos

Graham DeLaet blasts out of a bunker on the 13th hole during the first round of the Sony Open on Thursday at Waialae Country Club.
AP photo

"I'm just so excited to be back out," DeLaet said. "I had a good season my rookie campaign, and then it was all basically just taken away. And I realize now how fortunate we are to be playing golf for a living. My whole attitude is definitely better."

For Stricker, a minor adjustment was in order.

He is trying to become the first player since Ernie Els in 2003 to sweep the Hawaii events, and Stricker was noticeably tired during his pro-am Wednesday, and parts of the opening round.

Fact Box

PGA Sony Open

Thursday's First-Round Leaders At Waialae Country Club

Graham DeLaet32-31—63-7
Carl Pettersson32-33—65-5
K.J. Choi33-32—65-5
Kyle Reifers33-32—65-5
Webb Simpson33-33—66-4
Ken Duke33-33—66-4
Colt Knost32-34—66-4
Doug LaBelle II33-33—66-4
David Hearn32-34—66-4
Pat Perez34-32—66-4
Bud Cauley33-33—66-4
Kyle Stanley33-33—66-4
Steve Stricker35-31—66-4
Will Claxton31-35—66-4
Seung-yul Noh33-33—66-4
Matt Every33-33—66-4
Spencer Levin33-34—67-3
Ricky Barnes35-32—67-3
Stephen Ames37-30—67-3
Rory Sabbatini32-35—67-3
Keegan Bradley33-34—67-3
Jhonattan Vegas33-34—67-3
Harris English32-35—67-3
Harrison Frazar32-35—67-3
Sean O’Hair34-33—67-3
Scott Stallings32-35—67-3
Charles Howell III34-33—67-3
William McGirt33-34—67-3
Roberto Castro33-34—67-3
Chris Stroud34-34—68-2
Johnson Wagner38-30—68-2
C. Beckman33-35—68-2
D.A. Points35-33—68-2
Kris Blanks35-33—68-2
Tim Herron36-32—68-2
Bobby Gates34-34—68-2
Brendon Todd35-33—68-2
J.J. Killeen33-35—68-2
Martin Flores35-33—68-2
Billy Hurley III34-34—68-2
John Senden33-35—68-2
Billy Mayfair35-33—68-2
Sang-Moon Bae35-33—68-2
Ted Potter, Jr.31-37—68-2
Nathan Green35-34—69-1
Jeff Maggert33-36—69-1
Jeff Overton33-36—69-1
Greg Owen36-33—69-1
Ryan Palmer37-32—69-1
Brian Gay35-34—69-1
Josh Teater35-34—69-1
Tom Pernice Jr.36-33—69-1
Jason Kokrak34-35—69-1
George McNeill35-34—69-1
Duffy Waldorf35-34—69-1
Scott Piercy36-33—69-1
Chris Kirk35-34—69-1
Gavin Coles34-35—69-1
Steve Wheatcroft35-34—69-1
Jarrod Lyle35-34—69-1
D. Summerhays35-34—69-1
Alex Aragon36-33—69-1
Tadd Fujikawa35-34—69-1
Chris DiMarco36-34—70E
Chad Campbell37-33—70E
Corey Pavin36-34—70E
Arjun Atwal33-37—70E
Stewart Cink36-34—70E
Cameron Tringale34-36—70E
John Rollins37-33—70E
T. Takayama36-34—70E
Edward Loar37-33—70E
Davis Love III36-34—70E
Jerry Kelly35-35—70E
M. Thompson33-37—70E
Russell Knox35-35—70E
WC Liang34-36—70E
Richard H. Lee36-34—70E
Alexandre Rocha33-37—70E

Part of that was a Monday finish at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. He took the day off Tuesday, and he couldn't take three steps Wednesday without dozens of players congratulating him.

"A nice problem to have," Stricker said.

He picked up four birdies on the back nine, though, and was right in the hunt.

"I was a little sluggish at times. I'm still excited from last week," he said. "You turn around and you're right back in the competition. You've got to be focused. And I was, for the most part."

Cauley, who last year became the sixth player to go from college to the PGA Tour without Q-School, didn't show any signs of rust from having not played in nearly two months. He ran off four straight birdies around the turn until he stalled, then dropped a shot on the 17th and missed a birdie opportunity on the 18th when he tried to hit fairway metal out of a bunker and topped his shot.

"I did a lot of things right," he said. "I did a lot of things I was doing last summer."

Thursday was a gentle start of the season in the first full-field tournament of the year on the PGA Tour, with the ocean breeze barely strong enough to move fronds on the palm trees that line the fairways. Sixty-three players in the 144-man field broke par, including Moanalua High School graduate Tadd Fujikawa, given a late sponsor exemption.

Fujikawa shot a 1-under 69 and was tied for 45th place. Punahou graduate Parker McLachlin was tied for 80th after a 1-over 71.

 
 

 

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