POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Jan 17, 2011
LAST UPDATED: 1:45 a.m. HST, Jan 17, 2011
Shigeki Maruyama battled more than just Waialae Country Club yesterday.
The 41-year-old three-time winner on the PGA Tour persevered through 36 holes on a sore right knee to finish in the top 10 for the fourth time in 13 tries at the Sony Open in Hawaii.
The tournament — condensed to three days after rain washed out play on Thursday — ended with a 36-hole mad dash to the finish that started yesterday morning with Maruyama holding a share of the lead with Stuart Appleby.
By the time he finished the first 18, Maruyama had stayed at 10 under but had fallen three shots behind eventual winner Mark Wilson. Throughout his second 18, Maruyama received treatment from his caddie on his knee, but managed a final-round 69 to join playing partner Roland Thatcher in a tie for seventh place at 11-under 269.
"I wasn't able to really train during the offseason, so going through 36 holes today I was worried whether I was going to survive or not," Maruyama said. "In fact, I wasn't even able to play golf much, so to come and finish in the top 10, I'm very, very happy."
One of nine players to play on a sponsor's exemption, Maruyama did not shoot a round over par for only the third time at Waialae, and first since 2003.
He made the cut in only one of four PGA Tour events last season, and his seventh-place finish is his highest on the tour since finishing the 2007 season in second place at the Ginn sur Mer Classic at Tesoro.
"That's very encouraging to play that well," he said.
Maruyama came close to mounting a charge late in the day, but had four birdie putts of at least 20 feet over the final eight holes miss by less than a foot.
After a birdie on No. 11, he closed with seven straight pars to finish five back of the winner.
Even with the misses, he finished tied for the fewest putts over 72 holes, and credited some of that to the different-colored ball that stood out among the field.
"The yellow ball doesn't seem like it's really popular here in the United States, but in Japan it's really a big seller," he said. "I enjoy using that yellow ball because I'm the only one that really does it and when people see that ball they think, 'Oh, that's Maruyama's ball.' "
Appleby, who played all 36 holes with Maruyama yesterday, could have used a yellow ball of his own.
The first- and second-round leader had an uncharacteristic number of putts — 62 total — over the final 36 holes, getting his only birdie in the final round on 18 to close with a 72 and finish tied for 13th place at 9 under.
"Just seemed to hit a lot of good putts that didn't go in, and then when I had a good chance, I messed that up," Appleby said.
Thatcher, the lone American in the final group, matched Maruyama in putting, but wilted down the stretch.
"I don't think I was quite prepared for (the 36-hole finish) this early in the season," he said. "I know that I'm not alone in that, but I found myself out there struggling a little bit physically and mentally, and I'm sure others did, as well."
Maruyama pocketed $177,375 and will play again in San Diego at the Farmers Insurance Open a week from Thursday.
Until then, he'll take some much needed time to rest, beginning as soon as today.
"After 36 holes, I'm going to sleep in (today)," Maruyama said. "Go back to Los Angeles and take it easy for a while."