Hongo a familiar face
Ben Hongo has long been a familiar face all over Kapalua Resort during the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. He was the scoreboard calligrapher for the media room for the first 14 events, and for the last two years has directed instruction at Kapalua Golf Academy.
An accomplished local professional on the Aloha Section circuit, the 47-year-old Hongo was interviewed Monday by Janis Self for the nationally syndicated Grillroom Golf Show radio program.
“We covered how to play in the wind – into the wind, downwind,” Hongo said of his 10-minute interview. “We talked about the flop shot. We talked about equipment in trying to hit a flop shot and we talked about bunker play.”
How often does Hongo get those type of questions?
“Every day,” he said.
Hongo, who played at Cuesta Junior College in California, before coming to Maui in 1989, said he has never seen the weather change in a single tournament at Kapalua as much as it has this week.
“Not this extreme,” he said. “Overall, the weather was great in my opinion. It’s not true trades. It feels north, its not the normal winds – this is definitely different.”
Making his points
Webb Simpson took over the FedEx Cup points lead with 748 after earning 162.5 by tying for third place in the tournament. He entered the week fourth in the standings.
Jimmy Walker, who tied for 21st in the event, fell to second in points, 15 back.
Zach Johnson became just the fourth player to win both of the current Hawaii events on the PGA Tour – he won the Sony Open in 2009.
The other three to accomplish the feat are Jim Furyk, Ernie Els and Vijay Singh.
Facts and figures
The easiest hole during the tournament, in relation to par, was the par-5, 532-yard fifth, which yielded an average score of 4.150. The most difficult was the par-4, 508-yard 17th, with a 4.158 average. For the tournament, the 30 players combined for 92 rounds under par, and just 15 rounds over par. Webb Simpson had the longest drive of the final round, a 397-yard blast on No. 7. The total driving distance leader for the round was Harris English, who averaged 307 yards off the tee.
“Go ahead, I have time, we’re not leaving until 6. Oh wait, what’s the score?”
– Zach Johnson, at his news conference, asking about the Bowl Championship Series title game
HOLE OF THE DAY
555 yards * Par 5
The second-easiest hole of the day gave up two eagles and 15 birdies while playing to an average of 0.533 under par. It was key in the final round when Zach Johnson birdied it for the first time all week on the way to a win, and runner-up Jordan Spieth parred it for the second consecutive day after birdies the first two days.
Webb Simpson said the newborn son of his regular caddie, Paul Tesori, is in intensive care after being born Saturday in Florida.
“Yeah, my heart’s pretty heavy right now,” Simpson said after his 5-under-par 68 left him tied for the lead with Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson at 14-under 205. “Before I teed off yesterday, I talked to my wife and she said that Michelle (Tesori) was pushing, so I figured by the time I finished playing, I would have heard something. And I didn’t hear anything from Michelle or anybody else and I didn’t hear anything from Paul.
“I ended up talking to him, and when his son, Isaiah, came out, he had a seizure, I think 15, 20 seconds after he came out, and they took him to the NICU. And I think – I’m getting details from different people – but I think he had an infection or a virus in his brain.”
Simpson is working with caddie Ted Scott this week. Scott usually works for Bubba Watson.
Simpson said he was thinking of Tesori “every hole.”
“I mean, Teddy is obviously good friends with Paul, so he was pretty emotional this morning when I got to the golf course. Paul sent me a text this morning, just told me he loved me and wanted me to go out and fight as hard as I would any other day, and that’s what Teddy and I did. I felt like we were out there playing for Isaiah.”
Gay cards 65
Brian Gay, tied for 25th in the 30-player field entering the third round, shot a tournament-low 8-under-par 65 on Sunday to enter a tie for 16th at 8-under 211 five shots off the lead.
His 29 on the front nine of his third round included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole.
Gay played the front nine in 5 over on Saturday.
Facts and figures
Tournament co-leader Dustin Johnson is last in the 30-player field in fairways hit in regulation at 57.8 percent (26-of-45). Jason Dufner is first in that category, at 88.9 percent (40-of-45). Brandt Snedeker and Sang-Moon Bae have a tournament-leading 11 one-putts. Five players have had bogey-free rounds so far: Dufner and Jordan Spieth in round 1; Zach Johnson in round 2; and Gary Woodland and Bill Haas in round 3.
“I’m going to the gym more. Now I’m starting to get into a little bit more of a routine. Staying in at night, too, is a good thing.”
– Dustin Johnson, on how his habits have changed in recent years
HOLE OF THE DAY
532 yards * Par 5
The easiest hole on the course so far has surrendered 63 birdies and eight eagles in three rounds, and is averaging 0.87 strokes under par. On Sunday, there were 24 birdies – including by all three players who ended the day tied for the lead – and three eagles. Only Kevin Streelman had a bogey on the hole Sunday.