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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, January 16, 2010

Wilson, Hayashi reach weekend

 •  Palmer out front at windy Waialae

Special to The Advertiser

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Hilo's Kevin Hayashi made the cut in the Sony Open in Hawai'i for the first time.

GREGORY YAMAMOTO | The Honolulu Advertiser

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After years of frustration, the "Dean" and "Uncle Kevin" of local golf finally broke through by making the cut in the Sony Open in Hawai'i.

But wait! There will be another cut today because 80 players made the cut-off score of 1-over par 141 10 strokes behind 36-hole leader Ryan Palmer. So it'll be low 70 and ties once again after 54 holes.

Dean Wilson got a jump in what's expected to be an adventurous year of sponsor's exemptions and Monday qualifiers after losing his PGA player's card by shooting a 3-under-par 67 yesterday for a 138 total to set himself up for a Sunday date at Waialae for the first time in five years.

It was an even longer wait for Kevin Hayashi, six-time Aloha Section PGA Player of the Year, whom LPGA's Michelle Wie fondly calls, "Uncle Kevin."

Hayashi made the cutline on the nose by sinking a 14-foot putt for birdie at the 18th hole to close out a bogey-free 67 to make the 36-hole cut for the first time in nine tries in the PGA Tour event at the Waialae Country Club.

Then he had to wait nearly five hours to see if his 141 would be good enough to play on, only to learn that yet another cut awaits. There's no hanging around for the other four golfers with local ties TJ Kua, Nick Mason, Parker McLachlin and Tadd Fujikawa - who didn't come close to that number.

Nobody was more relieved about playing the weekend than Wilson.

"I got some putts in, finally, so I'm happy to be playing the weekend, finally, in a long few years," he said. "I have enough pressures here. I got everybody here cheering for me. So you know I want to play well, and I haven't the last few years. I'm just happy to be around on the weekend and hopefully I can play good and be in contention," said the Kāne'ohe native, who got a sponsor's exemption for the PGA Tour's first full-field event.

"I really need it. I don't have any status other than my past champion's, so I'm very limited on my schedule. I'm relying on sponsor's exemptions or top-10s (in tournaments) to get to next week. Every week's really big for me so I'm just focused here for the weekend. I want to play well and see if I can get in contention and be up on the leaderboard."

Playing with 2007 Sony winner Paul Goydos, who shot 30 on the front nine en route to a 7-under 63, really helped, according to Wilson. "He just made it look easy. I think it's always easier when you're playing with somebody that's playing well rather than guys who are struggling."

Goydos also gave him a good read on a birdie putt after messing up a downhill pitch shot at the 18th green, but Wilson couldn't get the 11-footer to drop. It was the only meaningful putt Wilson didn't make all day. One of Wilson's six birdies came at the par-3 7th when he drilled a 34-footer that rolled over Goydos' coin marker.

"That seems like where the momentum started picking up," Wilson said. "Made birdie there, good putt (a 15-footer) for par on 8 and finally got a birdie on a par-5 on 9," Wilson said.

As if waiting nine years and nearly five hours wasn't enough, Hayashi faces another cut. But at least this time he will earn his first Sony Open paycheck. Those cut today will still see some money.

"Hopefully, the cut stays where it is. Hopefully, I'll make the cut. If not, I gave it my best," Hayashi said right after bettering his previous best Sony Open round by three strokes.

He had to drain that birdie putt at 18 to do it. "I knew I had to make it to even have a chance," said the 47-year-old Hilo native. "I guess, I missed it (the cut) so much other people probably didn't think I could make it. But the most important thing is I felt I could make it."

Uncle Kevin finally did even if it might be good enough for only another 24 hours.

"I learned a lot. Now I know what it takes to be with these guys out here," said Kua, the lone amateur in the field, who followed his opening 69 with a 74 yesterday. "I missed two short putts in a row (at holes 4 and 5), misread one and pulled the other, and it kinda got to my head."

Former UH-Hilo golfer Nick Mason also finished at 3-over 143 and could wonder what might have been had he not double-bogeyed the par-3 fourth hole for the second straight day. "Other than that hole, I played great golf," said Mason, a Monday qualifier playing his first PGA event. "It was the funnest two days of my life."

McLachlin ended 72144 to miss his third Sony Open cut in four years after a top-10 finish in 2008, while Fujikawa had two double-bogeys, one at the par-5 ninth when he drove OB, for a 75147 despite finishing with birdies at 17 and 18.

Bill Kwon can be reached at billkwonrhs@aol.com.

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