Sony Open, Rookies Rule The Roost, Tied at the Top

 

Russell Henley of the U.S. (L) practices his putt swing as Scott Langley waits to putt on the 18th green during the third round of the Sony Open golf tournament in Honolulu, Hawaii January 12, 2013. REUTERS/Hugh Gentry

 Russell Henley and Scott Langley / Hugh Gentry Reuters

The two first year rookies, Russell Henley and Scott Langley are tied at the top of the leaderboard of the Sony Open at the Waialae Country Club, Honolulu, at the conclusion of the third round on Saturday. They share the lead at -17 under par, a three shot lead over Tim Clark who is alone in third place, at -14 under par.

Russell  fired a three-under-par 67 third round, while Scott carded a 65, to level the scores for the tournament for these two friends.

Apart from leading the tournament the pair now share the course lowest 54 hole record, at 193. Russell is still amazed at the experience he and Scott are enjoying;

“A month ago I was at orientation, and Scott just done with Q-School, and I gave him a ride to the airport. We had lunch and I was telling him how awesome it was I was on the PGA Tour. This is kind like a dream, it’s weird. It’s like I’m not awake, very weird. Whatever happens tomorrow, I’m going to learn from it. I’ve played great golf and I feel like I can compete out here. Win this tournament or not, it’s already been a very successful week.”

Scott was calculating the odds on him winning, and is happy the pair will together again tomorrow for the final round;

” The Vegas odds on me winning were probably not very good, I hope somebody bet on me and I make him a lot of money. I never imagined that, it’s certainly odd, but you know, if there was a guy in the field that I would love to do it with, it would be Russell because we play pretty similar games, and we’re kind of the same guy on the course. We play pretty quickly and pretty easy going, kind of feel our way around, not too technical. So there are a lot of guys that I enjoy playing with, but Russell is definitely one of them.”

A victory for either player on Sunday would emulate the achievement of fellow American Garrett Willis, who was the most recent rookie to win on his debut as a PGA Tour member, at the 2001 Tucson Open.

Tim Clark is happy with his golfing progress since coming back from injury, he would love to win this tournament, but is sure neither of the rookies will be worried about leading;

“I’m sure they won’t be too intimidated, that’s going to be fun to see them play. There’s all these young guys coming out these days, and they’re ready to go right from the start. So it’s going to be a fun battle.”

There are two players tied in fourth place at -13 under par, Scott Gardiner and Charles Howell 111, or Chucky three sticks, as he is known as on the Tour. At four shots back these guys must still feel they are in with a shout.

At -12 under par are a host of players, most notably for us in New Zealand, one of them is Danny Lee. It is good to see the Kiwi contesting on the final day. But as I said yesterday, if  Russell and Scott are paired together for the last round, one of them will be the winner.

Kiwi Legend Sir Bob Charles shoots 66, at age 76.

Bob Charles (left) and Gary Player  (Getty Images)

Sir Bob Charles and Gary Player (Getty Images)

Kiwi Legend Sir Bob Charles, aged 76, shot an incredible first round 66, -4 under par, to be tied third at the PGA Seniors Open tournament at the Golf Club Bad Ragaz, Switzerland. He is currently just two shots off the lead, held by David J Russell of England.

Kiwi Sir Bob was the first left-hander to win a Major,  at the 1963 Open Championship, at Royal Lytham and St Annes, the venue for this years Open. Sir Bob was very pleased with his round, and so he should be;

“That was one of those dream rounds. I have just bettered my age by ten shots, I have never got anywhere near that figure before. It’s quite remarkable really. I hope it’s a record. I have had some great days in my career and this is one of them. I felt young again. My putting certainly reminded me of the days of my youth. I hit a lot of good shots and never missed any short putts and that was the secret really. I made two really big 15-foot par putts to and they were crucial. I take a lot of satisfaction from today. These days that is the goal and today was, as I said, like a dream and one I will never forget.”

He spoke his decision to come out of retirement;

“I came back here because I love Bad Ragaz, I love Switzerland, and I love coming back here to this golf club because the welcome we receive is overwhelming. I retired because I wasn’t competitive anymore and I always said that I didn’t want to hang around if I couldn’t compete. Unfortunately when you get to my age the golf shots get shorter and the golf courses get longer and that combination is just not compatible. But that’s what made today so special. It felt great out there. Can I win the tournament? I would doubt it but you just never know if I can keep putting as well as I did today.”

Good luck for tomorrow, Sir Bob, one of New Zealand’s finest.

Lydia Ko plays her way into golfing history

Kiwi Lydia Ko has entered golf’s history books, just a year after she three-putted to gift Caroline Hedwall a one stroke victory in the NSW Open, the ultra-talented 14-year-old found redemption as she won her first ALPG tour title and in doing so became the youngest woman ever to win a professional tournament.

Lydia Ko
John Kirk-Anderson

The North Harbour teenager, held playing partner Lindsay Wright at arms length over the third and final round to supplant Amy Yang at the top of the leader board of junior golfing prodigies with a commanding four shot victory. Lydia was delighted with her achievement.

“Making history is amazing, I’m pretty speechless. Last year was such a good year and if this year is as good as it was last year, it will be amazing.”

The professional ranks must be looking over their shoulders, waiting for Lydia’s arrival among their ranks. Lydia’s next assignment is at the Australian Women’s Masters at the Royal Pines Resort on the Gold Coast starting Thursday. She then she heads back to Melbourne for the Australian Open at Royal Melbourne from February 9-12.