Sony Open notes: Cauley continues to impress

Bud Cauley follows his shot off the 17th tee during the first round of the Sony Open.

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4:01:19 AM ET. 08/21/2014




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 Robert StrebE E
 Jason KokrakE E
 Jeff OvertonE E
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HONOLULU – Gee, maybe those two top 10s and $735,150 earned in just eight weeks a year ago weren’t a surprise.

Bud Cauley seems determined to prove it was more a sign of what sort of exquisite talent is packed into his 5-foot-7-inch frame, because the former standout at the University of Alabama got off to a sterling start with a round of 4-under 66 in the Sony Open in Hawaii.

One of 26 rookies with PGA Tour membership in 2012, Cauley is the only one who earned his card by being within the top 125 a year ago. Most of the others either came through Q-School or off the Nationwide Tour money list, but Cauley is categorized as a rookie since he was not a member a year ago and didn’t play in 10 or more tournaments.

Cauley is now 48 under in 33 PGA Tour rounds as a professional.

• • •

Loyalty doesn’t pay

Steve Marino didn’t wait until the first tee to settle his losing bet with Jason Dufner. Supporting his alma mater, Virginia, Marino was on the short end when Dufner’s Auburn Tigers rolled in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, 43-24.

Told that things didn’t go so well for the Cavaliers that night, Marino shook his head. “Not for me, either,” said Marino, who was asked what the wager was.

“Too much,” he said.

Neither Marino (74) nor Dufner (71) – paired with Ricky Barnes – played well in the first round of the Sony Open. Marino was particularly sloppy as he finished double bogey, bogey at the eighth and ninth holes at Waialae Country Club. He made just one of five bogeys at the par-5 ninth in the morning wave.

That’s surprising, for Marino in four starts here has three top 10s, and his worst finish is a tie for 34th. He had broken par in 12 of his 16 rounds before opening with his worst-ever score at Waialae.

• • •

Sore spots, different scores

For two guys who are trying to begin comebacks from painful seasons, there were contrasting rounds. Graeme DeLaet, who played just two tournaments in 2011, blistered Waialae CC with a 7-under 63. But Jesper Parnevik, who played in 10 tournaments, shot 76.

“Great way to start the year,” DeLaet said. “Just being in Hawaii, period, is a great way to start the year. (But) to come out and fire a nice round in the opening round was great.”

Having hobbled to the finish line in 2010 with a bad back, DeLaet was 100th on the money list. But he was determined to take care of his health, because he was tired of going to tournaments and not practicing, just to save his back. So DeLaet had surgery and when he finally was able to play, in midsummer 2011, things still weren’t good, so he shut it down.

“The one thing with the injury, when you’re out here on tour, I had a good season my rookie campaign (2010), and then it was all basically just taken away. I realize now how fortunate we are to be playing golf for a living, (so) my attitude is definitely better.”

Parnevik might not be so optimistic, for good reason. The game has been a struggle for the last three years, as he’s been able to play in just 29 tournaments since the start of 2009. He had surgery last year to address health issues, and while he was able to put in full days of practice Tuesday and Wednesday, he made back-to-back double bogeys on an outward 38 and never got any sort of rhythm going.

At 46, Parnevik is grinding away, but he concedes his back and shoulder ills concern him.

“We’ll see,” he said. “It’s OK, but there are issues.”

• • •

New year, new power-broker

Waialae CC has been the place where in recent years people have hustled out to watch those who are heralded for their length. This year’s interest, Jason Kokrak, did not disappoint. He needed just a 9-iron to reach the green at the 509-yard, par-5 ninth, and he launched three drives of 330 yards or more.

While he used that power to shoot a 1-under 69, not everything was pretty. At the ninth, for instance, though he had 9-iron and just 179 yards in, Kokrak came up short in a bunker, blasted through the green, and couldn’t get it up-and-down. It was one of the few bogeys of the day at the ninth.

• • •

He is a machine

You’ll forgive some folks if they yawned when Webb Simpson opened with a 4-under 66. After all, doesn’t he shoot 66 every day?

Well, not quite. Some days he goes lower. Some days he goes a little higher. But every day, he seems to fire something in the 60s.

It’s now 13 consecutive sub-70 rounds on tour for Simpson, dating to the McGladrey Classic last October. He was in the 60s all four days there, all four rounds at Disney, then all four at last week’s Hyundai Tournament of Champions.

Opening with a 66 gives him a scoring average of 67.615 in those 13 rounds.

• • •

This ‘n that

Monday qualifier Doug Labelle shot 66. . . . Ryo Ishikawa attracted a massive gallery, but he didn’t give them much to cheer about after an eagle from 9 feet at his ninth hole, the par-5 18th, put him 1 under. That’s because he bogeyed Nos. 3 and 4, then doubled the par-4 sixth and needed a birdie at the ninth to salvage a 71. . . . Playing in his 15th Sony Open, Vijay Singh birdied the par-5 ninth to finish off a 71. He’ll need a solid round Friday to avoid missing his first cut here. . . . Stephen Ames continued to show a fondness for Waialae CC, shaking off a double bogey at the second and a bogey at the third to birdie six of his last 10 holes in a round of 67. He now has fired 17 sub-par scores in 26 rounds here.

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