2006: Hawaii 2-0: Roberts solves islands

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Kahuku, Hawaii

Loren Roberts might want to make Hawaii his own private playground.

After three events in three weeks, Roberts left the islands with lots of cash and two victories. He smashed several records in his win at the MasterCard Championships Jan. 22, and continued his run Jan. 29 with a wire-to-wire triumph at the Turtle Bay Championship.

Roberts’ final-hole 9-foot eagle was the difference in edging Scott Simpson by two shots. Roberts said he felt out of sync in the final round, in which he did not have a birdie.

“Instead of looking at squandering the lead, you have an opportunity to do something great here. That’s the way I try to look at it,” said Roberts, who tied for 18th at the PGA Tour’s Sony Open Jan. 15.

That’s $579,260 in three weeks in the Aloha State.

Simpson had an idea how Roberts could spend his money. “The way Loren is playing, he can buy an island,” Simpson told the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. “A little $3 million place on the beach.”

R.W. Eaks, whose second-round 65 moved him into contention, didn’t feel confident about his chances of winning with Roberts in the field.

“Only if he goes home,” Eaks told the Honolulu Advertiser. “He’s a great player and he’s playing really well right now and he’s got the momentum going. I’d say it’s his tournament.”

Roberts became the first player to win his first two starts of the season since Larry Nelson captured the MasterCard and Royal Caribbean Classic in 2001. Don January (1981) is the only other player to accomplish the feat.

  • Simpson’s strong start: Three weeks ago, Scott Simpson caddied for Hawaii native Parker McLachlin at the PGA Tour’s Sony Open. Simpson was returning a favor as McLachlin caddied for Simpson at the Hawaiian Open 12 years ago.

The time together has paid off for both. Simpson’s runner-up finish to Loren Roberts was his best in five Champions Tour starts. And McLachlin, who tied for 59th at Sony, tied for second at the Nationwide Tour’s Panama Championship Jan. 29.

“It was fun,” Simpson said of caddying. “The thing I like about caddying for him is just his attitude is so great.”

And McLachlin learned from the seven-time PGA Tour winner.

“He’s got such knowledge and is really even tempered,” McLachlin said at Sony. “He never got too high, never got too low. And I kept missing these putts and he just said, ‘You know, it’s like, all right, that’s a good putt. Keep doing that, they’re going to go in.’ It was nice to have someone as even-keeled as that on the bag.”

At Turtle Bay, Simpson got his 2006 season off to a flying start Friday with an eagle on the first hole. He holed a 6-iron from 167 yards. He told playing partner Morris Hatalsky: “There’s two ways to look at it: It’s a great way to start the year, but it can only go downhill.”

Luckily for Simpson, he kept it going right to the final hole.

Simpson, who earned $132,000, will play next at the PGA Tour’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am with friend Bill Murray, then return to the Champions Tour.

“The Champions Tour’s for me,” Simpson said. “I’ll play almost every tournament.”

-Irwin deep-sixed: Five-time defending champion Hale Irwin didn’t perform the way he would have liked at the tournament he has owned since 2000.

“I got a swift kick in the tail end this week,” Irwin said after he tied for 38th. “I

just wanted to play solidly and try to get back into some sort of groove and it just didn’t happen. The wind exposes your weaknesses, and my weaknesses were exposed very, very quickly.”

Irwin, who has 44 Champions Tour wins, did not have a birdie through 36 holes.

“It’s been just awful. Including the

pro-am, I’ve not made a birdie in 54 holes,” Irwin said Saturday. “Right now, I’m not a very good player. There’s nothing in my game that’s worth talking about.”

– Staff and wire reports

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