Sun, Jan 09, 2011 - Page 19 News List

Garrigus charges ahead in Kapalua

REUTERS, KAPALUA, HAWAII

The US’ big-hitting Robert Garrigus, with his approach play in top order, rocketed into a one-shot lead after producing a blistering finish to the second round of the Tournament of Champions on Friday.

The 33-year-old holed out with a wedge from 66 yards to eagle the par-four 16th before unleashing two booming drives to set up birdies at the 17th and 18th for a 10-under-par 63.

After starting another surprisingly calm day at the picturesque Kapalua Resort three strokes off the pace, Garrigus ended it one ahead of the chasing pack at 14-under 132.

“It feels great,” Garrigus told reporters after taking control of the PGA Tour’s elite season-opening event, which brings together the winners from the previous year. “Leading a tournament after two days really doesn’t mean much, but it would be nice if I could finish it off this weekend.”

Swede Carl Pettersson, co-leader with the US’ Jonathan Byrd overnight, birdied the last for a 67 to lie second with Byrd a further stroke back after a 68.

Former Kapalua winners Ernie Els (64) and Jim Furyk (68) were tied for fourth at 10-under, alongside Italy’s Francesco Molinari (67) and the US’ Steve Stricker (67).

Els, who triumphed here in 2003 with a tournament record of 31-under 261, made the first significant move of the day, piling up nine birdies in a flawless display to set the clubhouse lead.

“I needed something like that to get me closer to the leaders,” the smooth-swinging South African said after regaining his putting touch in the second round.

However, Garrigus powered his way to the top of the leaderboard as cool, overcast conditions gave way to bright sunshine in the late afternoon.

His eagle at the 16th, where his ball spun back 15 feet before disappearing into the cup, put him one shot clear of Pettersson and he maintained control with his birdie-birdie finish.

“I worked very hard at my wedge game and today I had four wedges that actually hit the hole. It was a lot of fun. I love Maui. It feels great to be in this position,” said Garrigus, who booked his place in the elite field at Kapalua with his maiden PGA Tour victory at the season-ending Disney Classic last year.

Seven players in the elite field of 32 held at least a share of the lead on Friday and, with conditions calm and Kapalua’s fairways the widest on the PGA Tour, birdies were plentiful.

SPOILED BIRTHDAY

Meanwhile, Camilo Villegas’ 29th birthday celebrations turned sour when he was disqualified from the tournament for a rules violation spotted by a television viewer.

The Colombian had carded a one-under-par 72 in Thursday’s opening round, but he unwittingly violated Rule 23-1 at the par-five 15th where he twice chipped up to the green only to watch as his ball rolled back to him.

On the second occasion, he -illegally flicked away a loose divot of grass as the ball was trickling back down the slope.

Rule 23-1 states: “When a ball is in motion, a loose impediment that might influence the movement of the ball must not be removed.”

Villegas should have incurred a two-shot penalty for his infraction. Instead, he completed his round and was therefore disqualified from the PGA Tour’s season-opening event for signing an incorrect scorecard.

“I went to him before I made any formal announcement and he said he’d like to see it just to learn,” said Slugger White, the PGA Tour’s vice president of rules and competition. “I told him what happened. He could not have been bigger. Obviously he wasn’t trying to do anything [illegal]. He just didn’t know.”

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