[PHOTO: Getty Images]
For the Australian contingent at the Sony Open in Hawaii, it appeared the event was going to be a matter of quality versus quantity. Aaron Baddeley’s tournament-eve withdrawal left Cameron Davis as the lone Australian in the field of a tournament that was once littered with Australian tour pros.
Davis fired an opening-round 62 at Waialae Country Club to take the lead on day one of the first full-field event of the PGA Tour season. But the Sydneysider faded with rounds of 70, 70, 69 to finish T-30 at eight-under par. Davis’ result earned him a $US54,500 ($81,000) prize cheque.
Davis finish nine shots behind a playoff ultimately won by North Carolina’s Grayson Murray. Murray cemented his comeback from alcoholism and mental-health challenges with a thrilling extra hole on Sunday (Monday afternoon, Australian time).
Murray was tied in regulation at 17-under (263) with Byeong Hun An and Keegan Bradley. In the playoff, Murray pulled his tee shot into the trees and was in a far worse position on the par-5 18th with Bradley in the fairway and An just off it in the right preliminary rough. Bradley and An both hit poor second shots while Murray hit a perfect lay-up to sand-wedge distance.
When Murray drained a 38-foot putt, and both An (from four feet) and Bradley (from 17 feet) were unable to match the birdie, Murray earned his second PGA Tour title. It ended a PGA Tour win drought of seven years, and completed a comeback from treatment for alcohol issues. Murray’s renaissance, which included fitness and sports psychology regimes, began with two Korn Ferry Tour wins in 2023 and a promotion back to the PGA Tour.
“It’s not easy, you know,” he said. “I wanted to give up a lot of times, give up on myself, give up on the game of golf, give up on life at times. Just persevere, and when you get tired of fighting let someone else fight for you. That’s what happened.”
Meanwhile, for the Australians on the Korn Ferry circuit, New South Welshman Rhein Gibson was one shot off the lead at the the Bahamas Great Exuma Classic when the first round was suspended due to darkness and will resume tomorrow at 7am (11pm Monday, AEDT) with 22 players needing to complete the first round.
KK Limbhasut 64 (-8)
Chandler Blanchet 64 (-8)
Rhein Gibson 65 (-7)