Derek Lamely was one of only two rookies to win on the PGA Tour in 2010.
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Thursday, December 08, 2011

KAPALUA, Hawaii — Derek Lamely finished last at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions at the Plantation Course on Sunday, not that he was despondent about it. Finishing last in Maui is like getting stuck with the dumbest Hawaiian Tropic bikini model. It's not the worst thing in the world.

Lamely will pick up a check for $55,000. He played the last two rounds with the irrepressible Rocco Mediate, a friend of his from Florida. Lamely whale-watched, fished and rode ATVs. His ride for the week was a Hyundai Equus, which costs $60K but which players said drove more like $100K.

And he's spent the last 10 days, including New Year's Eve, at the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua with his girlfriend, Ashley Hickman, who caught a barracuda on their fishing expedition.

"This place is awesome," Lamely said after a perfunctory post-round session on the driving range in which he hit just three balls. "We're going to hang out here tonight, have dinner, maybe take a little drive up the coast. We'll head to Honolulu [for the Sony Open] tomorrow morning."

Odds are you wouldn't recognize Lamely, 30. He was one of only two rookies to win on the PGA Tour in 2010 (Puerto Rico Open), but he's flown largely under the radar compared to fellow Tour sophomore Rickie Fowler, who did not win a tournament last year but was voted Rookie of the Year.

Lamely sports a less flashy hairdo, wears less flashy clothing. Nobody much cares that he's won on Tour and Fowler hasn't, or that Lamely came from eight shots back and beat Fowler in a playoff at the 2009 Nationwide Children's Hospital Open. The funny thing about the Hyundai is that Lamely felt like he actually played pretty well, despite his scores of 72-76-78-70, which left him 4 over par and 28 shots out of the playoff between winner Jonathan Byrd and long-hitting Robert Garrigus.

"I just — it was the biggest struggle I've ever had on greens," Lamely said. "I was lost all week with speed and line. I probably wasted six shots a round easy on the greens. That was my whole week."

Lamely averaged 33 putts per round, but shot his best round of the week Sunday, a 3-under 70. He caught Mediate with birdies on 15 and 16 before a bogey on 17 sent Lamely into 32nd and last place. Both players failed to birdie the par-5 18th hole, and that was that. The pillow fight had come to an end.

At least Lamely got to finish all four rounds, unlike two-time defending champion Geoff Ogilvy, who sliced open his index finger and had to withdraw, and Camilo Villegas, who was disqualified for signing for an incorrect score after unknowingly breaking the rules while shooting an opening 72.

What's more, Lamely saw improvement in his short iron and wedge play, which he worked on in the off-season.

"Rocco was nice," Lamely said. "He could see some of the changes I've made. He was going, 'That looks good, just hang in there and keep your head up.' We're both competitive enough that neither one of us wanted to finish last, but we both knew that even if we did well, we weren't going to finish much better than that."

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