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With Crowds Back, Big Names Tied For Lead at Mitsubishi Championship After Day 2

By Tom Hasslinger
January 21, 2022, 2:45 PM HST
* Updated January 21, 7:16 PM
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Ernie Els tees off Friday to open his second day of play, while Vijay Singh, right, watches Els’s drive. PC: Tom Hasslinger / Big Island Now

The second round of the three-day Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualālai teed off Friday morning under sunny skies, and with spectators again, something that was mostly absent last year due to the pandemic.

Day 2 finished much like it began, with a pair of World Golf Hall of Famers at the top of the leader board. Ernie Els was sitting in first along with Vijay Singh at 12 under par, 132. The two were joined by Stephen Ames, of Canada, in a three-way tie for the top spot.

Ames, who won the 2017 Mitsubishi Classic, was one of five players tied for third at 6 under when the day began. The trio teed off together to start the day and Ames came storming back to secure his spot with Els and Singh. Els led the field by himself going into the second day.

“Well, I had an excellent start, I was 3 under,” Els said after he finished up Friday. “Then I made a really bad error in judgment on the par 3. I hit it in the water, made double bogey. That really set me back because I was really in a great rhythm. Then it was kind of a battle, but I hit some really good shots, I just couldn’t get the putts in the hole. It was just one of those kind of days, but I lost a lot of momentum with that tee shot on the fifth, but I thought I hung in well.”

The third and final day of the championship is Saturday. The leaderboard can be accessed here.

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The field features only winners of PGA Tour Champions events over the past two years, as well as winners of senior major championships over the last five years, and several sponsor exemptions. This year marks the 26th consecutive year its been held at Ka’upulehu on the Big Island.

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The total purse is $2 million with a winner’s share of $340,000.

“The way I’m playing, I’m playing good, I’ve just got to not make too many mistakes,” Els said about what he needs to do to win the championship. “Got to do what I did the first day.”

Back this year are spectators. Last year, the even was closed to the public due to the pandemic, although residents of the adjacent Four Seasons Resort at Hualālai could watch. On Friday, around 1,500 people dotted the par-72, 7,107-yard course, including Brett and Shauna Setterlund, who drove up from Kailua-Kona to take in the subdued, relaxing atmosphere for the first time.

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“We thought we’d come and check it out this year,” Shauna Setterlund said. “We love it. I want to do it every year.”

“She’s talking about volunteering next year,” Brett Setterlund added.

Lee Johnson, also of Kailua-Kona, has been volunteering at the event for the last 10 years. He was at his favorite position on the green of the first hole ensuring spectators stayed quiet as players prepared to swing. He said not having spectators last year made a noticeable difference in the atmosphere, although the players were still as focused as they pursed the purse. Still, it was nice having the energy of the crowds back.

“A lot of the fans who come here are really knowledgeable about golf,” Johnson said.

Els, of South Africa, is seeking his third win on PGA Tour Champions. He won the 2020 Hoag Classic and 2020 SAS Championship and finished tied for second at the 2020 Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualālai in his debut at the event two years ago.

Singh, of Figi, has matched his second-lowest 36-hole score in PGA Tour Champions play in his 96th start.

Another big name on the course is Reigning PGA Tour Champions Rookie of the Year Jim Furyk. He was tied for fourth at 133 after Friday.

“It’s early but to … be in good position after two days is a good start,” he said. “So we’ll see how far I am behind. Another good solid round. I don’t think the breeze is going to be, again, the same direction, I don’t think it’s going to pick up any more tomorrow, so going to have to fire — I’ve already shot 67-66 and I’m behind, so it will have to be something good.”

Stephen Dodd, 42nd place, made a hole-in-one on the par-3 17th hole with an 8-iron from 163 yards. It is the third ace in tournament history and first on No. 17.

 

Stephen Ames, right, smiles as he walks off the 18th green tied for the lead after Day 2. PC Tom Hasslinger/Big Island Now

Tom Hasslinger
Tom Hasslinger is a journalist who lives in Kailua-Kona. Prior to joining Big Island Now, he worked as the managing editor for West Hawaii Today and deputy editor for The Garden Island newspaper on Kauai. He's worked for over 15 years as a reporter for the Oahu-based Civil Beat news outlet, as well as in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho and Douglas Wyoming.
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