Canada’s David Hearn responded in the best possible way to some good-natured banter from his compatriots by charging up the second-round leaderboard at the Sony Open in Hawaii on Friday.
The previous day, fellow Canadian Graham DeLaet had set the tournament pace with a sizzling seven-under 63 and Hearn knew all about it when he checked his mobile phone messages after opening with a tidy 66 at Waialae Country Club.
“I got a few texts from some guys saying you’re not the top Canadian, I need to work harder,” a smiling Hearn told reporters after posting another 66 on Friday to briefly hold the outright lead.
“It’s great to see Graham back. He had a tough year last year with his injury,” he added, referring to DeLaet’s back surgery in early January last year that almost entirely wiped out his campaign last season. “Canadians, like the Australians and all the other countries around the world, we kind of pull for each other, so it was good to see him do well yesterday.”
Hearn, whose best finish on the USPGA Tour was a tie for fifth at last year’s Las Vegas Open, eagled the par-five ninth on his way to a share of second place at eight-under 132.
“There’s a lot of doglegs out there and I’ve always been pretty good off the tee,” the 32-year-old said, after also recording four birdies and two bogeys on a breezy day at Waialae. “Any golf course where you have to put the ball in play I tend to do well at. Everything feels pretty good for the most part. My short game has been really good and my putter has been really solid.”
Hearn, who has triumphed once on the second-tier Nationwide Tour, grew up just five blocks from the home of ice hockey great Wayne Gretzky in Brantford, Ontario.
However, he was never tempted to take up Canada’s national sport as a youngster because of his relatively slight frame.
“I didn’t really fill out well enough, so that decision was kind of made for me at a young age that I was going to be a golfer, not a hockey player,” Hearn said. “I always knew I’d be a golfer.”
Ironically enough, as a golfer, Hearn got to know Gretzky.
“I was fortunate he had a Nationwide event for three years in Canada,” Hearn said. “He ran it in Collingwood and the first year that he hosted it, I was his partner for the tournament. He’s obviously the greatest at his sport of all time, so it was pretty much an honor and privilege to play with him at an event like that. Great guy ... and a lot of fun to be around.”