Johnson shoots 65 for victory

Updated: January 19, 2009, 10:11 AM ET
Associated Press

HONOLULU -- Zach Johnson had a lei around his neck and a glass of champagne in his hand Sunday night as he toasted the members of Waialae after a two-shot victory in the Sony Open.

"The worst part of Hawaii is leaving," he said to laughter and applause.

The best part of winning is he gets to come back.

Johnson closed with a 5-under 65 on Sunday to outlast David Toms in a well-played duel along the back nine, finishing with a two-putt birdie for a two-shot victory over Toms and Adam Scott.

"I get to go back to Maui again," he said, referring to the season-opener at Kapalua for PGA Tour winners. "And Oahu. Starting your year in these two destinations is pretty awesome."

His fifth career victory -- and second in his last six starts -- can be traced to last week and his tie for sixth. He went 64-67 on the weekend at Kapalua, and made it 30-under par for his last six rounds with his thorough victory at Waialae.

Johnson began the final round with a one-shot lead and never lost it.

"I was hoping to get a victory today, but Zach played awfully well," said Toms, who made three big putts down the stretch to keep himself in the game. "He's a good player and tough to beat."

Tadd Fujikawa, the 18-year-old from Honolulu trying to become the youngest winner in the PGA Tour history, started the final round two shots out of the lead, but never got any closer as he struggled to a 73 and tied for 32nd.

"I just couldn't get anything going," said Fujikawa, who resumes his senior year in high school on Monday.

Johnson finished at 15-under 265, the final birdie eliminating any drama.

Sony Open Leaderboard

1. Johnson (-15)
T-2. Scott (-13)
T-2. Toms (-13)
4. Howell III (-12)
T-5. Na (-11)
T-5. Gay (-11)
• Complete scores

Toms, who made a 4-foot birdie putt on the 15th, and par putts from 5 feet and 12 feet on the next two holes, was one shot behind playing the par-5 18th when he tried to cut too much off the corner of the dogleg and wound up in the bunker. There was some question who was away, and it turned out to be Johnson, who hit 5-wood to the back of the green, 35 feet above the hole.

Toms tried to hit a hybrid, but it either caught the lip or came out heavy; either way, it traveled only about 70 yards and left him in such a tough lie in the rough that he couldn't get close for a good look at birdie.

Toms closed with a 66 and tied for second with Scott, who shot 64. Scott left a 10-foot birdie putt short on the 17th, and he knew his birdie on the 18th to finish at 13-under 267 would not be enough.

"It was nice to get on the back nine and have a chance, and get the competitive nerves going again," Scott said. "I really enjoyed that, and I enjoyed the challenge. I wish I could have made the putt on 17 to have a bit of a chance on the last, but all in all, I'm pretty happy with how my game is shaping up."

Charles Howell III also had a chance, with three straight birdies around the turn and back-to-back birdies late in his round, a chip-in on the 16th and an 18-foot birdie on the 17th. But he missed the 18th green well to the left, chipped to 15 feet and three-putted for bogey to finish alone in fourth.

Fujikawa was feted at every turn, but his hopes faded quickly.

Fans lined the length of the 486-yard opening hole, and a handmade sign hanging from a palm tree behind the green said, "Go Tadd. Bring it Home." It was signed by the grounds crew at Waialae, who stood and cheered.

But after opening with three pars, he began a steady descent down the leaderboard -- along with one embarrassing moment.

Standing on the par-3 seventh tee, Fujikawa realized he only had 13 clubs. His caddie left a 6-iron back in the bunker on sixth fairway, and had to run back to retrieve it. Shakil Ahmed got an ovation when he returned to the tee, Fujikawa laughed, but then the kid put his shot into a bunker for another bogey.

He was only three behind when he made birdie at the turn, but each bogey dropped him 10 spots on a crowded leaderboard, ending his chance at winning and finishing in the top 10 to earn a spot in the FBR Open. Ultimately, it affected the size of his check.

Fujikawa's first PGA Tour paycheck was $29,237, more than doubling his career earnings.

"It was a great week. I learned a lot from it," Fujikawa said. "I qualified, I made the cut, I put myself in contention. If I can keep doing that, everything will work out."

Two groups behind the big crowd, Johnson and Toms were staging a quiet duel.

They traded birdies and bogeys with only about one-fourth the size of the gallery following Fujikawa, and when Toms two-putted for birdie on the ninth, they went to back nine at 11 under. Both made birdie on the 10th, but Johnson pulled ahead with a 5-iron to 4 feet for birdie on the 11th and an 8-footer on the 14th, and Toms never caught up.

Howell, the runner-up to Paul Goydos two years ago, ran off three birdies around the turn to briefly take the lead at 11 under, but he settled into a pars and appeared to be running out of putts until his late flurry. The three-putt only cost him money, for he had to birdie the 18th to have any hope of a playoff.

"I take from it that I gave myself a chance," Howell said. "This is the first week of school. It was nice to get the nerves back and get in a position to win."

Divots

Saturday's attendance was 12,900, a 44 percent increase from the previous year, when Fujikawa missed the cut. ... Ernie Els tied for 39th, the first time in six appearances at the Sony Open that he finished worse than fifth. He closed with a 67 and has 21 of 24 rounds at Waialae in the 60s. ... Shigeki Maruyama missed a 3-foot birdie putt on the 18th, costing him a top 10 and a spot in the FBR Open in two weeks. He played the Sony Open on a sponsor's exemption.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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