Originally created 01/14/02

Kelly finally breaks through for first victory



HONOLULU -- Given a fourth chance to win on the PGA Tour, Jerry Kelly wasn't about to give the Sony Open away to anyone Sunday - least of all John Cook.

Tentative throughout the final round, Kelly produced two flawless swings to set up a two-putt birdie on the final hole for a one-stroke victory over Cook, giving him his first PGA Tour victory in his 200th career start.

"I'm not going to sleep for a week," said Kelly, who closed with an even-par 70 on a balmy day at Waialae Country Club when no one made much of a move.

It was the fourth time Kelly had the lead going into the final round. One of those chances came last year at the Reno-Tahoe Open, when he made triple bogey on the 16th hole of the final round, allowing Cook to win by a stroke.

There were no such mistakes Sunday.

Kelly disposed of an early threat by David Toms, made a clutch par save on the 15th and then overcame a three-putt bogey on No. 17 with his two most important swings. His 3-wood split the middle of the fairway, and he easily reached the green on the 551-yard closing hole in two shots. Needing two putts to win, his first putt stopped 12 inches from the cup.

"He's worked hard," Cook said. "He deserved to win."

Kelly, who finished at 266, earned $720,000 and should move up high enough in the world ranking to qualify for the Match Play Championship at the end of February.

Jay Don Blake posted the best score of the round, a 5-under 65 that left him alone in third at 269.

Toms caught Kelly at 13 under through five holes, but gave it back with a double bogey and finished with a 2-over 72. He tied for fourth at 270 with Matt Kuchar (72) and Charles Howell III, who made only four pars in his round of 70.

Cook got within one stroke with a birdie on the 12th and stayed on Kelly's heels until a cell phone rang when he was at the top of his back swing on the par-3 17th.

"No! No cell phones," Cook screamed as the ball sailed right into a deep bunker. He blasted out to 6 feet, but the par putt burned the right edge of the cup for his only bogey on the back nine.

He reached the back of the green on the par-5 18th in two and gave his eagle putt a good roll, but it slid by on the right. He settled for a two-putt birdie and a 69.

Tougher pin positions and the pressure of the final round kept anyone from running away with the tournament early on. Even though conditions were balmy and breezy, same as they have been all week, no one in the final four groups broke par on the front nine.

Kelly played tentatively, missing his first four birdie chances on the low side of the hole. His first mistake was coming up short into a bunker on No. 5 to make bogey, and he walked off the green with his two-stroke lead having disappeared.

Toms gave it right back.

His tee shot sailed left, bounced high off a cart path and over a 10-foot high row of thick bushes. Toms had to walk around the hedges, wait for Jim Furyk and Cook to hit their tee shots on No. 7, and found his ball 8 feet into the junk.

If he took an unplayable, there was a chance his drop would roll back into the bushes and he would have to take another penalty stroke. "Or I go back to the tee and the best I can make is double," he said to his caddie, Scott Gneiser.

Toms held his arm out to drop the ball, paused at the last second and decided to go back to the tee. He made double bogey, and never challenged again.

At the turn, Kelly was at 13 under and up by two over Cook, Toms, Furyk and K.J. Choi. They all faded quickly - except for Cook.

Birdies on the 10th and 12th holes got him within one stroke of Kelly, setting up the potential for a repeat of the Reno-Tahoe Open.

Kelly looked like he might stumble again when he missed the 15th green from the middle of the fairway, and chipped to 12 feet. But he holed it for par, pumping his fist and gritting his teeth as it slid in the right corner.

The only easy shot the rest of the way was his 12-inch birdie putt for the win.

Divots: Sony Corp. has agreed to extend its sponsorship for another four years. PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem called it the most improved event, and prize money certainly reflects that. Finchem said the $4 million purse will increase to $5.5 million in 2006, the end of the next TV contract. ... On his 57th hole of the 2002 season, Chris Riley finally made a bogey. He made another one on the par-5 ninth, and finished with a 72, tied for 13th. Riley's caddie pays him $25 for every round he plays without a bogey. ... Q-school winner Pat Perez shot par or better every round and finished at 7-under 273, tied for 17th.