Johnson Wagner worked so hard in the offseason that he told friends he was going to win early in the year, and he hardly wasted any time.
Wagner played bogey-free over the last 12 holes, a winning recipe on a tough day at Waialae, and closed with a 3-under 67 to pull away from a half-dozen contenders and win the Sony Open on Sunday in Honolulu.
As for that mustache getting so much attention? It’s going to stay for at least another week, and maybe until he gets to Augusta National in April. The third win of his career earned him an invitation to the Masters.
Wagner was among six players who had a share of the lead at some point in the final round. He was the only guy to stay there, and wound up with a two-shot win over Carl Pettersson, Sean O’Hair, Harrison Frazar and Charles Howell III.
Coming into the year, Wagner only had seven top 10s in 139 starts on tour, including two wins. He opened the year at Kapalua with a tie for ninth, and then rallied from a two-shot deficit to win the Sony Open.
Frazar had the best chance. He had the outright lead briefly after a birdie at No. 10, then made pars the rest of the way for a 67. Pettersson overcame a double bogey on the second hole and finished with four birdies on the last six holes, also for a 67.
“My first top 10 as an American,” said Pettersson, the Swede who became an American citizen in the offseason.
O’Hair had a 30-foot eagle putt on the 18th hole that burned the edge. He had to settle for a 67, while Howell birdied his last hole for 69 to join the group tied for second.
Jeff Maggert and Matt Every, tied for the lead going into the last day, both collapsed early. Every was 4 over through six holes and rallied for a 72. Maggert missed a slew of short putts and shot 74.
Considering all the attention Every received this week — his comments about his marijuana possession arrest two years ago his awkward television interview — he said Saturday night that “I’m just ready to get it over with.”
And that he did. He was tied for the lead with Maggert, and quickly spent the day in hopeless pursuit.
Every made bogey from the bunker on the first hole, drove into the water at No. 2, three-putted for bogey at No. 4 and three-putted again from 4 feet on the sixth hole for a double bogey.
SOUTH AFRICA’S GRACE WINS JOBURG OPEN
South Africa’s Branden Grace won his first European Tour title Sunday with a par 72 for a one-shot victory at the Joburg Open.
Grace had a bogey and birdie on the East Course at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club to edge Englishman Jamie Elson, finishing at 17-under 270.
The 23-year-old Grace had his three-shot, third-round lead cut to one when Elson made a 30-foot putt for eagle on No. 18 to finish with a 63. Elson had seven birdies along with his eagle, including six in his first eight holes.
“I played really nicely, I hit the ball superb I think, and the putter was just cold,” Grace said. “I couldn’t get the speed of the greens. Fortunately, at the end of the day, it was enough.”
TRACKING LOCAL GOLFERS
This week: PGA Tour’s Sony Open, Thursday through Sunday, Waialae Country Club, Honolulu.
In the field: Gig Harbor’s Kyle Stanley and Tacoma’s Troy Kelly.
Stanley’s fourth-round score: Even-par 70.
Position: Stanley (6-under 274) finished tied for 23rd, seven strokes behind winner Johnson Wagner (267). Kelly (146) missed the cut Friday.
Recap: On the cusp of taking over the lead early Saturday at 8-under, Stanley played the late 30 holes at 2-over to fall back. The hole that seemed to do him in was the par-3 seventh – he bogeyed it during both weekend rounds. The one on Sunday left him at 2-over for the day, erasing all thoughts about making a run.
Next for Stanley: Humana Challenge starts Thursday at PGA West Nicklaus and Palmer Courses in La Quinta, Calif.
Todd Milles, staff writer