|Ryan Palmer closed the second round with two birdies to card a 66. (Hugh Gentry/Reuters)|
After a good opening round (5-under-par 65), Ryan Palmer played just about as well yesterday in Honolulu, closing with two birdies for a 66 that gave him a one-shot lead over some familiar company in the
Having stumbled into an article about how defending champion Zach Johnson never looks ahead, Palmer stayed calm in an ocean breeze and surged into the lead at Waialae with a drive so big on the par-5 18th that he had only an 8-iron into the green for an easy birdie.
He was at 9-under 131. Among the group one shot behind was Chad Campbell (64), his neighbor from the Dallas suburbs.
They decided to escape the cold and head for the California desert to get ready for their season opener, playing two rounds together on courses used for next week’s Bob Hope Classic.
The stakes are higher at the Sony Open, although neither let on who claimed the cash last week.
“Let’s call it a push. It was give-or-take $5,000 on the last hole,’’ Campbell said with a wink and a smile.
They are part of a crammed leaderboard going into the weekend, typical of the first full-field event of the PGA Tour season, when pins typically are a little more generous to help get 144 players through the tiny property.
Johnson looked every bit the part of defending champion with eight birdies. He looked anything but that with one bad break on the 17th hole that led to a triple bogey. Feeling heavy sand under his feet from a deep bunker, he didn’t realize there was hardly any sand at all until his ball sailed over the green into a plugged lie in another bunker.
It was so bad that Johnson had to play back toward the tee to get it out of the bunker, chipped poorly, and fell down the leaderboard. Then, what he thought was a perfect tee shot tumbled into the rough and he wound up with par. Then came a three-putt bogey.
“I’ve never thrown it in, but I’ve been really anxious to get off the golf course,’’ Johnson said. “At that point, I was really close.’’
He turned it around with a 6-iron to 12 feet on the second, one of his best shots, and that settled him. Johnson finished with two birdies for a 67 and was right back in the hunt.
Also at 8-under 132 was Robert Allenby, playing on a sprained ankle, who came to Hawaii after two straight victories in South Africa and Australia to close out the year.
Steve Stricker, who has gone 24 holes without a bogey, had a 67 and was joined in the group at 7-under 133 by John Merrick (68) and Jeff Quinney (67).
European - David Lynn of England shot a 4-under 67 to take a one-stroke clubhouse lead at the Joburg Open in Johannesburg after the second round was halted because of a second lightning delay.
Play was called off with 30 players still to complete their rounds, and was set to resume early today.
Lynn was at 12-under 130 after five birdies and a bogey.