There are a couple of good stories at the top of the leaderboard. The best one belongs to Steve Stricker who shot a flawless 10-under-par 63. He had eight birdies and an eagle. We shouldn’t be too surprised though; in shooting 5-under yesterday, he made eight birdies there too. His only problem is that he made a bogey and a double bogey to go with them. Today was tidier day.
The next best story was Kevin Na. Until now, even though he finally won his first tournament last year, he was most famous for a nightmarish 16 he shot on one hole in San Antonio in April. It was just one of those situations where he thought he could rescue himself by punching out from deep in the woods but it took him five shots, one of which ricocheted off a tree and hit him for a two-stroke penalty.
But now Na will be famous for something positive: he shot 8-under on the back nine Saturday which included an eagle-eagle finish, the first time that had ever been done at Kapalua. He holed a 5-iron from 221 yards on 17 and reached the par-5 18th in two shots from 277 yards and made a ten-footer. He covered those two monster holes (508 and 663 yards) in five shots. With his 1-under on the front, that put him in third place at 9-under.
That put Na one shot behind Webb Simpson who consistently shot a second 5-under 68 to finish at 10-under. Although he’ll be paired with Stricker in the third round, he has to figure out how to make up his 5-shot deficit when Stricker has improbably come into the first tournament of the year a veritable birdie machine.
A little further down the leaderboard in 6th, we find one last interesting story of the day. Because Lucas Glover withdrew due to injury before the first round, he left his tee time partner, Chris Kirk, high and dry. Kirk was given the option of playing by himself or being paired with an excellent player to help with his pace of play. He chose to play by himself, ended up waiting to hit shots all day long and shot 2-over. Re-paired for Saturday, Kirk played with Jhonnatan Vegas and shot 7-under, 9 shots better. A good lesson in the value of being able to play at the same pace as the rest of the field.
The Value of a Good Watch
Rory Sabbatini’s caddie confessed that it was he who was responsible for Sabbatini being twenty seconds late for his tee time and incurring a two-stroke penalty. His watch was running four minutes slow. Sabbatini said, “It was one of those things, just a goofy moment. It happens. Unfortunately it happened today. But you know what, it was a good day anyway.”
It was a good day because after the twenty-second dislocation on the first tee, Sabbatini made a triple bogey 7 on the first hole. But he fought back by going 6-under the rest of the way and going from 3-over to 3-under on the day.
That’s what separates Tour pros from us mere mortals.