Two share Sony lead after 2nd day
Published: Saturday, January 18, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 18, 2003 at 1:10 a.m.
HONOLULU - Aaron Baddeley earned the right to play in this PGA Tour event and he played like he belonged Friday, shooting a 6-under 64 to share the lead with Retief Goosen through two rounds of the Sony Open.
The 21-year-old Aussie made birdies on three of his last five holes at windy Waialae Country Club and looked like he was ready to live up to the hype he earned by winning the Australian Open twice as a teenager.
He still has plenty of work left.
Baddeley will be in the final pairing Saturday with Goosen, a former U.S. Open champion and the fourth-ranked player in the world.
Both finished at 10-under 130 on a Waialae course that puts a premium on accuracy because of the tight, winding fairways and tiny greens.
And if that's not enough, both might have to contend with the Big Easy.
Ernie Els, coming off a record performance last week at Kapalua when he won by eight strokes set a PGA Tour record at 31 under par, showed no signs of letting up.
Despite missing two birdie putts inside 6 feet on his back nine, Els shot a 65 and was one stroke behind, along with Chris DiMarco (66) and Peter Lonard (65).
``I'm hitting the ball quite nicely,'' Goosen said. ``Ernie is hitting the ball slightly better than me. If he gets the putter going, he's the guy to beat for the weekend.''
Baddeley figures to have a say in that.
He was labeled a star at 18, when he held off Greg Norman and Colin Montgomerie to become the youngest champion of the Australian Open, the third-oldest championship in golf that dates to 1904.
He repeated the following year, and then beat Sergio Garcia in a playoff at the Holden International in Australia.
Success on the PGA Tour was another matter.
Despite nearly 20 sponsor's exemptions, he rarely made the cut and never finished higher than a tie for 44th in the Reno-Tahoe Open.
He paid his dues last year on the Buy.com Tour, finished 10th on the money list and earned his card. Now, Baddeley wants to show he belongs.
Along with the two South Africans, plenty of others are in the mix.
The cut was at even-par 140, so only 10 strokes separate the top from the bottom, and it's stacked close to the lead.
Lonard birdied his final how holes for a 65, a good start to a season in which he wants to be a contender more often. He finished 41st on the money list last year, his first full season on the PGA Tour.
DiMarco, a winner on tour each of the last three years, also finished with a birdie on the 551-yard 18th hole that showed how much the winds have increased along the shores north of Waikiki Beach.
He belted a driver off the tee, just right of the fairway, then followed with a 1-iron that still had 107 yards left to the hole. He selected an 8-iron.
``Smoked it,'' he said.
The ball landed about 20 feet beyond the pin, but helped by the wind and grain it finished a mere 2 feet from the hole.
Goosen played in the afternoon, when the Kona wind reached 20 mph. That hardly fazed him as he opened with three straight birdies.
Goosen finished with seven straight pars, and was lucky to get the last one. His drive on the par-5 ninth hole - playing so short that Els reached the green with a wedge - went left toward the driving range and stopped only a few feet from going out of bounds.
Despite his strong play, he needed everything to hold off Els, his good friend from South Africa and playing partner the first two rounds.
Els ran into problems on No. 1, his 10th hole, when he pushed his drive so far to the right that he hit a provision in case it went out of bounds. He stayed in by 3 feet, but had to grind to make bogey.
He made the rest look easy - a 9-iron into 15 feet on No. 2, a 6-iron in 5 feet on No. 5, a sand wedge to 2 feet on No. 6. It might have been even better than he not missed those two other short birdie putts.
Still, Els had few complaints.
He is trying to become the first player since Steve Jones in 1989 to win the first two events on the PGA Tour schedule, and he's in great position.
Even on a different course from Kapalua, which is wide open with expansive greens, Els has plenty of game.
``You can't just get up there hit it as hard as you can,'' he said. ``Obviously, I prefer last week. But I also enjoy this, when it gets quite bunched up and you've got to grind it out. Sometimes par is a good score. If I keep playing like this, I'll like it.''
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