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2005 Sony Open

On the Road with Ernie: Sony Open, 13-16 January 2005

I really got things going on Sunday in Hawaii, making a late charge for the title. It was pretty exciting out there. I finished birdie, birdie, eagle to shoot 62, eight under par, and equal the course record. You know, if I’d putted even half decent earlier in the week it might have been a different story. As it was, I just came up short to finish second. It’s disappointing to get so close and not win, but hey, when you start the day tied-23rd and end up in second place, that’s not so bad!

Like I said, the damage was done earlier in the week on the greens, where I struggled to make putts. It wasn’t so much my long and medium-length putts that were the problem - actually, I led the stats for putts per green hit in regulation. It was more the close-range stuff. Basically, when I missed greens I just wasn’t getting up and down to save par often enough. So I threw in a few too many bogeys. I’ll be working hard on that part of my game, coming into this week’s Buick.

Anyway, going back to the start of the week, Thursday was a pretty tough day for golf. The strong, gusting ocean breeze made it difficult judging distance into the greens. But even so, a one-over par 71 wasn’t a great effort. In fact, it’s the first time I’ve been over par on this golf course in 17 rounds. In all my previous four visits, I’ve shot four rounds in the 60s. Shame that run came to an end.

Friday’s round was a serious struggle starting out. I made two early bogeys and at one point was three-over par for the tournament, a couple of shots over the predicted cut line. Considering the way it was going on that front nine, I was pleased with how I got my round back on track. I made five birdies coming home to shoot 67 and at least give myself a chance over the weekend.

Saturday was again a bit up and down, though. Four birdies, four bogeys, level par 70 - not what I was looking for, at all. I had a think about my putting that evening and had a couple of ideas to work on for my final round. On Sunday morning it felt better on the practice green, then I hit a couple of sweet putts early on and you know, you see the ball going in and all of a sudden you fancy holing some putts.

After 15 holes it was already a nice round, with six birdies on my card. The last three holes transformed it into a very good one. Birdie, birdie, eagle is a great way to finish. Obviously, having started the day in tied-23rd, I was in the clubhouse quite early in the day and I had to sit and watch as the leaders came in, one by one.

To be honest, I thought 10-under might come up a little bit shy. Certainly when Vijay needed a birdie on the last to beat me by one, I didn’t doubt for a minute he’d do it. You have to expect it. I mean, the guy won nine tournaments last year and he’s at the top of his game. He shows no signs of faltering; it looks like he’s going to be the man to beat again this year, just as he was in 2004.

As for me, I’ve got to be fairly satisfied with my first two weeks’ work this season in Hawaii. I played some good golf and my swing felt pretty solid. Both weeks I led the birdie stats, making a total of 45 in eight rounds - almost a birdie every three holes. So that’s really positive. I maybe wasn’t as sharp as I could have been on and around the greens, which is mainly why I didn’t convert one of my top-threes into a win. But I can probably put that down to a bit of early season rust. We’ll soon put that right.

 

Ernie’s Stats Summary (2005 PGA Tour)
Tournament: Sony Open
Scores: 71, 67, 70, 62 - 270, 10-under par, 2nd
Tournaments Played: 2
Prize Money: $868,000
Position on Money List: 3rd
Stroke Average (Season to date): 67.88
World Ranking: 3

Coming up this week . . .

It’s roughly a four-hour flight back across the Atlantic to California, for this week’s Buick Invitational at Torrey Pines Golf Club in San Diego. It’s played over two different courses, the North and the South, and tends to favour the longer hitters.

As I was saying earlier in this report, I feel pretty good about most parts of my game. And I really got a good feeling on the greens in that final round in Hawaii, so if I can carry it into this week’s tournament then things will be looking positive. Maybe I’ll look at it this way; I was 3rd at the Mercedes, 2nd at the Sony. Let’s see if we can complete that sequence and make it 1st at the Buick!

However it works out, I’ll write again next week and tell you all about it.

Until then, bye for now.

Ernie

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