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The Sony Open is back ... and so are the spectators

Tournament organizers are also thrilled to once again say aloha to spectators.
Published: Jan. 10, 2022 at 3:26 PM HST|Updated: Jan. 10, 2022 at 3:28 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Waialae Country Club takes centerstage on the PGA Tour this week for the annual Sony Open in Hawaii.

In addition to welcoming some of the best golfers in world, tournament organizers are also thrilled to once again say aloha to spectators.

“It was an eerie feeling last year,” said Ray Stosik, Sony Open in Hawaii tournament director.

“We would see a player get a birdie or an eagle, he’d look around for some kind of response, and he would high-five himself because there was no one there to cheer him on.

He added, “I think the players would really enjoy the experience of having fans back.”

Stosik says coordinating the return of the gallery required months of fine-tuning a comprehensive safety protocol.

He’s hoping for at least 5,000 attendees daily for rounds one through four. All spectators will either need to show proof of vaccination or a negative test within 48 hours upon entry.

Masks are also required at all times.

With the exception of last year, longtime tournament spectator Roy Miyamoto has attended every Sony Open since 1967.

He is one of the many attendees excited to be back on the course and is confident in the tournament’s safety measures.

“They check your ID with your COVID card and all that and they said your mask gotta be on almost all the time as long as you’re not eating,” Miyamoto said.

“But all the spectators, we need to keep it on all the time, so it’s pretty good.”

Logistical planning hasn’t taken away from the tourney’s community efforts

The open is an annual fundraiser for the Friends of Hawaii Charities and sponsors helped them hit last year’s goal, despite no ticket sales.

“We also again this year have committed to $1.2 million minimum and so with spectators and food and beverage activities and other things, we hope that we can actually give more this year with spectators,” Stosik said.

Those in attendance will be able to watch a field that includes defending Masters Champion Hideki Matsuyama.

Top 10 golfer and major champion Bryson DeChambeau was slated to compete but withdrew Monday due to an injury.

The opening round begins Thursday.

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