Ellis Wins Pearl Open, Ma is Low Amateur

HONOLULU, HI (Feb. 14, 2011) -- Although shortened from 54 to 36 holes due to intense flooding on Friday, the 33rd annual Hawaii Pearl Open still provided plenty of drama as a diverse group about a half dozen golfers battled to the tournament’s conclusion on Sunday. Things got a little more exciting as overnight leader John Ellis (shown above) faltered a bit on the front nine before righting the ship and posting nine solid pars on the back. Ellis’ even-par 72, combined with his first round 64, gave him a two-stroke margin of victory over his two closest rivals.

At one point during the round, Nick Mason (2nd in last year's HPO) had scrapped his way to within a single stroke, as he birdied four out of his first five holes before cooling off. Mason’s six-under 69-69–138 performance was matched by defending Hawaii Pearl Open champion, Akinori Tani (68-70–138).

Canadian pro Nick Taylor (67-76–143) and Turtle Bay Resorts star Tony Finau (67-74–141), who shared second place after day one, both fell off the pace. Taylor was ranked as the number one amateur in the world in 2009 before turning pro last year; Finau and his brother, Gipper, starred in The Golf Channel’s “Big Break” reality series.

The low round of the day was turned in by Japanese touring pro Tomokatsu Usuki, who fired a six-under 66, charging to sole possession of fourth place.

The day began with four players completing their first round. After the cut was determined 104 players advanced to the final round. The fourth time was the charm for Ellis, who had led at one point in all three previous Hawaii Pearl Opens that he had entered, but never won. It turned out to be an all-University of Oregon kind of day, as Hawaii’s Matthew Ma (70-71–141, shown right) captured low amateur honors at 3-under par and T7 overall. Ellis was the senior captain of the Ducks’ golf team when Ma joined them as a freshman.

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