Inside the ropes at the Sony Open Pro-Am - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Inside the ropes at the Sony Open Pro-Am

James Schaefer James Schaefer
Rob Merriman Rob Merriman
David Toms David Toms

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

WAIALAE COUNTRY CLUB (HawaiiNewsNow) - It's not often that a news reporter wears a golf cap to work. But Hawaii News Now had a tough assignment and this reporter, a golf fanatic, took it on.

On Wednesday, I got to play a round of golf with a PGA player at the Sony Open Pro-Am.

My team had three other amateurs and professional golfer David Toms, who is an incredibly nice guy and can count me as a new fan. As we walked the fairways, he talked about life on tour and how beautiful he thinks Hawaii is.

There's just something surreal about seeing your own name on the pairing sign and having a professional golfer as your playing partner.

"Please welcome David Toms," the announcer said.

But after solid drives by Toms and fellow teammates John Fink, Robert Hiam and Peter Kurano, it was time to shake off the butterflies and let it rip.

"From Honolulu, Hawaii, please welcome Minna Sugimoto," the announcer said.

Whew, a good start!

So what makes Toms -- a 12-time PGA Tour winner and the 2006 Sony Open champion who's among the favorites this week -- want to play a round with a group of amateurs?

"If it weren't for players like yourself and other people who play the Pro-Am today, you know, we wouldn't be able to do this for a living," Toms said. "So it's a big part of our game. To me, it's the beauty of it."

There were golfers of various skill levels playing side-by-side with the likes of John Daly, Davis Love III and Stewart Cink, all having the time of their lives.

"We were playing with Stuart Appleby, so we were really honored to play with him," James Schaefer, amateur golfer, said. "He's giving us some tips on how we're putting, a little bit on tempo, and where we're driving and stuff."

"You realize that everybody makes mistakes. They just make fewer," Rob Merriman, amateur golfer, said. "They're very gracious and that's what handicaps are for, so we can play with those guys."

"It feels good when you out-drive them once in a while," Schaefer said while smiling.

For me, it was a day of firsts. My first Pro-Am, my first time playing at the beautiful Waialae Country Club and my first time walking 18 holes, which I hear is about six miles.

So what did my new friend, David Toms, think?

"Anytime you can play with somebody with a pink ball, it's kind of fun," he said, referring to my pink Precept ball. "But I thought you did well."

On each hole, they took the best score of the five players on a team. As a team, I believe we wound up 11-under par. We didn't win, but I had a blast.

Thanks to my caddy, Stephen Burke, and everyone at Hawaii Now for this amazing opportunity.

Copyright 2010 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

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