Pernice hits eagle to tie for Sony lead

HONOLULU -- On the kind of day where Tom Pernice Jr. kept his head down to battle the wind and rain, he looked up just in time to see his final shot disappear into the hole for eagle on Friday that gave him a 7-under 63 and a share of the lead in the Sony Open.

It was a fitting end of a second round that delivered a few surprises, starting with the weather.

Those 50 mph gusts in the forecast, which forced school closings across Oahu, never quite made it to this corner of the island, leaving Waialae wet and windy, but no worse than the opening round.

Tadd Fujikawa, the 18-year-old who turned pro after his sophomore year in high school, secured his first PGA Tour paycheck by ripping two shots onto the green at the par-5 ninth for a birdie and a 69.

But nothing was more stunning than Pernice making eagle into the strength of the wind, tying for the lead with Nathan Green (66).

"The finish was spectacular," Pernice said. "You're not thinking about holing it from the fairway. It was tough out there today. Luckily, I scraped it around when I needed to and didn't make any bogeys, and just kind of hung in there."

Pernice and Green, who played in the morning, were at 8-under 132 going into a weekend that could be wide open.

Shigeki Maruyama had a 68 and was one shot behind, and the dozen players within four shots of the lead included former Masters champion Zach Johnson, Mercedes-Benz Championship winner Geoff Ogilvy, Boo Weekley and David Toms.

Only nine shots separated the top from the bottom.

Fujikawa finished his two rounds at even-par 140 and was eight shots behind, the same margin he faced in 2007 when he became the youngest player in 50 years to make the cut on the PGA Tour. He wound up tied for 20th that week, and was hopeful of something similar.

"I have a lot of good memories from that year," Fujikawa said. "I want to keep it going. I'm playing well."

Lorens Chan, the 14-year-old amateur qualifier who was trying to become the youngest player in PGA Tour history to make the cut, lost hope early when he played his first nine holes in 42. He birdied two of the last three holes for a 75 and missed by six shots.

The par-5 ninth was the scene of other high drama.

Andres Romero, still struggling to find his form from his offseason rust, was headed home to Argentina until he holed an 18-foot birdie on the seventh, then made a 15-foot eagle putt on the ninth to make the cut on the number.

Davis Love III wasn't so fortunate. A runner-up last week at Kapalua that moved him to No. 54 in the world as he tries to qualify for the Masters, had a 12-foot eagle putt to make the cut, but he missed.

Johnson finished birdie-birdie-eagle to turn a decent day into a great one with a 65.

Even so, Pernice stole the show.

After ripping a driver and a 3-wood into the wind, he had 92 yards left to the hole, which typically would be a lob wedge. Pernice went with a punch pitching wedge just right of the hole, and it spun to the left and into the cup.

"It's not necessarily something where you feel like you're going out and hitting every shot perfect," he said. "It's not going to happen, even in these conditions, because your good shots don't always turn out good. The mentality was to hang in there and keep plugging along. Obviously, the eagle at the last was quite exciting."

Green didn't have too much excitement except for the fifth hole, when it started raining hard and he hooked his tee shot toward the hazard. It was one of the few times a player is happy to see a tree in the way, for it allowed him to escape with bogey.

That was the only glitch on an otherwise solid start to his season. And like so many other players, Green considered it a minor victory that he got to play at all considering the forecast.

"All the news that maybe we wouldn't play had a few of us pretty scared, and that it was meant to blow all day," Green said. "But you get patches out there where it was not really blowing at all. They have the tees forward on a lot of holes. So as long as you get your tee shot in the fairway, you still have a few fair opportunities to make birdie."

The rain was so strong at times that Greg Kraft had a 25-foot birdie putt on the 16th, and as the ball was not even halfway to the hole, he was running toward his caddie to get under the umbrella.

Toms watched the wind carry one shot across the green into the rough, but he chipped nicely to 3 feet for par. Then came the 17th, playing 188 yards, and Toms selected a 3-iron. He came up some 40 yards short of the hole.

"I'm hitting into the wind, trying to hang onto the club, everything soaking wet," he said. "It was tough."

But it could have been much worse.

The course was slightly shorter, and the greens a little slower because the greens were cut only once in case of high wind.

Ernie Els, a two-time Sony Open champion who has never finished lower than fifth at Waialae, played bogey-free over the final 16 holes to scrape out a 69 and finish at 1-over 141 to make the cut on the number, as did former Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger.