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Finally - A Leader in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions
After three days of cancellations caused by wild weather in Hawaii, the first round of the PGA Tour's 2013 season opener, the $5.7 Hyundai Tournament of Champions, finally was played. And so was the second round, on a Monday no less, when the 30-player field again endured blustery weather along with 36 holes.
At the end of the long day, Dustin Johnson, who qualified for the winners-only tournament by securing his sixth Tour title after taking The Barclays last August, posted rounds of 4-under 69 and 7-under 66 Monday to reach 11-under 135, good for a three-stroke lead over defending champion Steve Stricker.
Like the rest of the players in the tournament with the Friday start - whose previous rounds were washed and/or blown out on Friday, Saturday and Sunday - with no scores counting on any of those days, Johnson was pleased to finally get on the par-73, Coore-Crenshaw-designed Plantation Course at Kapalua Resort in Maui, Hawaii and play some extended golf.
"No, I wasn't tired at all," Johnson said after 36 holes of a tournament that will see its final round - 18 holes - determine the winner Tuesday in a tournament reduced to 54 holes. "We had not played any golf, so I was ready to go, first round of the year, play 36 holes. This course is a tough walk and it's really windy out there, but I'm in pretty good shape. I can handle it."
Stricker, who was visibly limping Monday due to a pain in his leg, had the shot of the day. The 45-year-old Wisconsinite canned a 75-yard chip shot on the par-5 18th hole for an eagle to close out his afternoon round, a 6-under 67 that followed his 71 in the morning.
"It was a long day, but a good day," said Stricker, who qualified for the tournament after winning the TOC last year for his 12th title. "I hung in there and, you know, kept the ball in front of me. I made some nice shots. Hit some poor ones out there and got away with them. But made some good up and downs, just kept the round going.
"It was still tough conditions," added Stricker in reference to the seemingly never-ending blusteriness experienced at the Pacific Ocean-side venue. "A couple times the wind really kicked up again and made for some difficult club choices, but all in all (I'm) very happy."
Four strokes back is Bubba Watson (70, 69), while tied for fourth at 140 with 18 holes to go are Keegan Bradley (71, 69) and Brandt Snedeker (70, 70). "Two Gloves" Tommy Gainey - 72 and 69 - is in sixth at 141 with 18 holes to go.
After sitting around for three days, the players were thrown into the fire with 36 holes on a Monday, of all things. Yet the 26-year-old Bradley was ready for the challenge. "It was tough, but I guess that's what you train for all off season. I've been trying to get in better shape, and I think that this has paid off today because I do feel very well.
"I feel for the caddies," added the 2011 PGA champion. "The caddies have been grinding out there. (Bradley's caddie) 'Pepsi' (Steve Hale) did a great job out there and I appreciate it."
For all the scores, visit http://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard.html.
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