The only similarity between this week’s 2024 Sony Open at Waialae Country Club on the island of Honolulu and last week’s Sentry Tournament at the Kapalua Resorts Plantation Course on the island of Maui was that they both took place in Hawaii.
The par 72, 7,500 yards Plantation Course had a “grip it and rip it” layout that had few trees lining the lightning-fast sloping fairways that would have been the envy of any ski resort. With 300-plus yard drives being the norm rather than the exception and birdies and eagles inflating scores across the leaderboard, it certainly challenged the credibility of the first 2024 Signature Event.
The par 70, 7,044 yards Waialae Course is more of a traditional course that favors accuracy more than distance. Its tree lined fairways and numerous doglegs require a variety of different club selections and attention to detail on almost every shot.
The Sony Open invited 144 players, with 82 players making the cut that was far from the reduced 59-player field invited to last week’s Signature Event that included a no cut 36-hole format. This week’s winner claims $1.494 million. It was not one of the PGA Tour’s signature events $20 million purses (Winner $3.6 million), but it still offered a respectable $8.3 million.
Cam Davis shot an 8-under 62 to take a two-stroke lead over Taylor Montgomery and three over a group that includes Webb Simpson, Aaron Rai, Austin Eckroat and Stephan Jaeger. However, there was an even bigger group behind the top of the leaderboard with nearly 30 players at 3 under or better.
Gary Woodland was back on the PGA Tour this week and share a moment with the media when asked about being back. “There was a time where I didn’t know if this was going to be possible,” Woodland said. “It a good week for me from a mental standpoint. I needed to be mentally sharp to get where I want to be in the world. It’s coming back.”
The second round of the Sony Open in Hawaii ended with a three-way tie for the lead. Austin Eckroat -9, Byeong-Hun An -9, and Carl Yuan -9 shared the 36-hole lead at the Waialae Country Club in Honolulu. Yuan posted a 5-under 65 on Friday to take the lead. Eckroat shot a 66 and Byeong-Hun carded a 64.
Day 1 leader Cam Davis -8 finished one shot behind the leaders. He shared 4th place with nine other golfers including Taylor Montgomery, Stewart Cink, Kurt Kitayama and last week’s Sentry winner, Chris Kirk.
Here are some of the higher ranked players who missed the cut. Adam Hadwin -1, Sahith Theegala -1, Matt Fitzpatrick E, Will Zalatoris +5 and The Golfer Channel’s newest addition Kevin Kisner +6.
Gary Woodland (142) +2 missed this week’s cut but he left feeling encouraged that his future looks promising. “Probably the happiest I’ve ever been shooting over par. At the end of the day the goal this week was to see how I was mentally, and I was really, really good. It was pretty tough out there.”
Keegan Bradley finished his Saturday round with two back-to-back birdies to take the joint single-stroke lead after 54 holes. He carded a 7-under 63 (196) with the help of eight birdies.His lone bogey came on par-3, hole 11.
Bradley’s post round comment seemed to sum up the challenges of the Waialae course, “If you make a bogey or a few pars in a row, you can go from leading to 12th in a second. I’ve got to go out tomorrow and probably shoot another pretty low one to win.”
Bradley is joined by Grayson Murray, who shot a bogey-free 6-under 64 (196). He made four birdies and a five-foot eagle on the par-5 ninth hole to jump three spots. The 2017 Barbasol Champion, is currently 176th FedEx and 132nd OWGR.
He has been open about his battle with alcohol in the past. “I’m over eight months sober now,” said 30-year-old Grayson, “I have a beautiful fiancée that I love so much and who is so supportive of me, and my parents are so supportive of me.
Sam Stevens moved up the leaderboard 17 spots to third after a bogey-free 63 (197). He was 13-under after 54 holes. Ben Silverman 64 (199), Taiga Semikawa 66 (199), Matthieu Pavon 67 (199), Chris Kirk 67 (199) and Byeong Hun An 68 (199) were in a five-way tie for fourth at 11-under.
Three rounds were in the books at the 2024 Sony Open and 19 golfers are within five strokes of the co-leaders. Keegan Bradley and Grayson Murray, who were tied at 14-under-par, took a 1-stroke lead into today’s final round at Waialae Country Club. Ideal playing conditions, coupled with a golf course that has kept the field close for three days, just might make this a a good old fashion Hawaiian “Pau Kahana.”
The leaderboard, as the last threesome arrived at the 10th tee, was a tight and showed just how difficult it’s been to make a breakaway from the pack. It had 1st place Russell Henley -16. 2nd place Carl Yuan -15, J.T. Poston -15, Keegan Bradley -15, Grayson Murray -15, and Matthew Pavon -15.
After nine holes of rapid movement up the leaderboard the back nine brought a number of changes that saw players struggling to stay on the upper tier. Only three players remained in contention as the final group approached the 18th green. Keegan Bradley -17 (67), Byeong Hun An -17 (64) and Grayson Murray -16 (68). Grayson -17 (67) made birdie on the 18th to move into a 3-way tie sending the match to extra holes. Keegan Bradley failed to make birdie from the middle of the fairway on the final hole in regulation, a par 5 that was playing as the easiest hole on the golf course. Johnny Miller would appropriately call it a choke!
Both Bradley and An hit their 18th hole tee shots into the fairway on the first extra hole, the easy par 5 18th. Murray’s tee shot found the rough to the left side of the fairway. Murray’s 2nd shot found the middle of the fairway while An was short right of the green. Bradley pulled his second shot severely right into the grandstand which is another display of poor golf under pressure especially from someone ranked No. 16 in the world with career earnings over $40 million.
Murray’s 3rd shot landed on the green about 60ft from the pin. Bradley 3rd shot, from a “dropped ball,” came up 35 feet short of the pin. An’s 3rd shot ended up about 5ft from the pin. Murray makes his 40mfoot putt for a birdie. Bradly misses his birdie putt. An missed his birdie putt.
Greyson Murray is the 2024 Sony Open champion.
The winner on the 1st “Extra Hole” at the 2024 Sony Open is Grayson Murray. He pockets a check for $1,494 million and 500 FedEx Points. This is Murray’s 2nd PGA TOUR win and raises his career earnings to $5,299,517. 2nd place will be split between Keegan Bradley and Byeong Hun An each will receive a check for $738,700 and 245 FedEx points.
NBC Reporter Todd Lewis interviewed Grayson Murray as he was leaving the 18th green. He asked him, “What did you show yourself today?” He responded, “Hard work pays off. It’s not easy you know. I wanted to give up a lot of times. Give up on myself, on the game of golf. Give up on life at times and when you get tired of fighting let someone else fight for you. That’s how it works.”
The reporter continued, “What is the work that you’ve done off the golf course battling alcoholism, mental struggles? How important was that for you to be in the right frame of mind today?” Grayson said, it’s everything you know. Jesus Christ is first and foremost without him none of this would be possible. He’s just giving me a platform to write a new story. Write my own story and I hope everyone at home watching can get a little inspiration from me. If I just help one person that’s all that it takes.”