Johnson hopes to carry momentum over

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 January, 2013, 9:44am
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 January, 2013, 9:58am

Dustin Johnson, Carl Pettersson and Mark Wilson are some of the top contenders at the Sony Open as the PGA Tour’s first full-field event of the season begins on Thursday.

Johnson is fresh off his victory at the weather-plagued Hyundai Tournament of Champions, which wrapped up Tuesday at the Kapalua course.

The tournament was supposed to end on Monday but several days of high winds also forced officials to reduce the event to 54 holes.

The seven time PGA Tour winner is hoping to carry the momentum from the Kapalua event over to the Waialae Country Club where he has finished no worse than tied for 16th in seven Sony Open appearances.

Johnson will be paired in the first round with defending champ Johnson Wagner and Zach Johnson who won the event three years ago.

Wagner played bogey-free over the last 12 holes last year to close with a three-under 67 for a two-shot victory.

“I worked hard this off-season again on fitness and on my game, trying to get ready for the season,” Wagner said.

“I had such a good start to the year last year, I thought I might as well do the same things as I did and hopefully I improved on them a little bit.

“Last week in Maui I played really well, hit the ball great.

“My swing is in as great a shape as it’s been in a long time and (I) just couldn’t get any putts to fall or else I think I would have had a chance to win, but I’m excited to be back in Oahu and ready to defend my title.”

Wagner said he worked hard on his short game in the off-season.

“I took a deep look into my stats from last year and my short game was a glaring weakness. So I worked hard this winter on tightening up my chipping and my bunker play.

“It showed last week. I think I hit two greens out there in the pro-am today, so I needed my short game a lot.”

Wilson, another former winner here (2011), is also expected to challenge. He has a reputation as a fast starter as all five of his PGA Tour wins have come in the first three months of the season.

Sweden’s Pettersson is also seen as having a good chance this week after finishing in a tie for second last year and a tie for fifth three years ago.

South African Tim Clark is back after tying for second in 2011 before having elbow surgery.