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Robert Garrigus vaults in to the lead with a 63

Robert Garrigus, the biggest hitter on the PGA Tour, took the leading at the Tournament of Champions on Friday thanks to one of the shortest clubs in his bag.

Garrigus holed out a wedge for eagle on the 16th hole, then finished with two big drives to set up easy birdies for a 10-under 63 in the second round to take a one-shot lead at Kapalua going into the weekend of the season-opening tournament.

His wedge on the 16th landed some 15 feet beyond the hole and took the grain to trickle into the cup. He was excited but that was overdue because on two other holes, his full wedge came with inches of going in.

Garrigus has led the tour in driving distance each of the last two years, yet he spent the bulk of his offseason working on his wedge game inside 100 yards, and that paid dividends Saturday.

“My wedge game is exactly where I need it to be,” he said.

He was at 14-under 132 and had a one-shot lead over Carl Pettersson, who birdied the last hole for a 67. Jonathan Byrd also made birdie on the finishing hole of the Plantation Course for a 68 and was another shot back.

Ernie Els, who set the tournament record at Kapalua in 2003, got back into the mix with a 9-under 64. Steve Stricker didn’t make a bogey in calm conditions and shot a 67. Francesco Molinari of Italy recovered from a bogey-bogey start with eight birdies for a 67. FedEx Cup champion Jim Furyk had another 68.

All of them were only four shots behind.

“Everybody is jammed up there,” Stricker said. “If the weather stays like this, there’s going to be low scores. You’ve got to keep going.”

Also in the mix was Dustin Johnson, among seven players who had the lead at one point Friday. He ran off five straight birdies before trying to drive the 14th green, losing his ball and taking double bogey.

“If I drive it straight, it definitely favors long hitters,” Johnson said.

Garrigus can go toe-to-toe with anyone off the tee, and he showed that coming in. He ripped a 392-yard drive on the 17th, a big number considering the lack of a strong wind, and stuffed his approach to about 6 feet. And on the 684-yard closing hole, he had a 5-iron for his second shot after a 394-yard drive.

For all his length, it’s hard to ignore the short aspects of his game.

He uses a 28-inch putter—he once left one in Tiger Woods’ locker to give to his daughter, Sam—to help on the greens. But the key has been the wedge game.

Following defending champion Geoff Ogilvy’s withdrawal due to a cut finger sustained on some coral while swimming, the tournament lost another player in unusual circumstances Friday.

Camilo Villegas was disqualified because of a rules violation on Thursday that no one knew about until the first round was over. On his second chip that was coming back to his feet on the 15th, Villegas flicked away loose pieces of grass where the ball was headed.

Scores

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