Aloha swing nothing alike in field golf courses - COPIED

By Associated PressJanuary 15, 2009, 5:00 pm
2007 Sony OpenHONOLULU ' Throw out the weeks before and after the majors, and its tough to find consecutive stops on the PGA Tour as diverse as the Aloha Swing.
 
The Mercedes-Benz Championship was a winners-only field of 33 players.
 
More than half of the 144-man field at the Sony Open has never won at all.
 
The Plantation course at Kapalua was carved out of a mountain on the west coast of Maui, and with so much elevation, there were 24 tee shots that traveled at least 400 yards last week. The 17th hole alone drops 100 feet from tee-to-green.
 
The biggest drop at Waialae is stepping off the curb to cross the street from the clubhouse to the first tee. It is a classic course on the shores 10 miles east of Waikiki Beach, where the greens are located a flop shot away from the next tee.
 
There are two holes at Kapalua where players needed a Mercedes SUV to reach the next tee.
 
Big field, small field, Davis Love III said as he outlined the differences. A bunch of rookies this week and established guys last week. Came out here yesterday and just, whew! Breath of fresh air. Dont have to go up and down any hills.
 
The Sony Open begins Thursday, the second stop on the PGA Tour and the first full-field event of the 2009 season.
 
Which is the tougher tournament to win? Thats up for debate.
 
Geoff Ogilvy had to beat a field of PGA Tour winners, and he wound up with a six-shot margin over Love and Anthony Kim. But just about anyone at the Sony Open is capable of playing his best golf, and that means an additional 111 players to beat (including 14-year-old Lorens Chan, the amateur qualifier who is in the ninth grade and hits it a mile).
 
Daniel Chopra won the Mercedes-Benz Championship last year, didnt win another tournament all year and wound up 52nd on the PGA Tour money list. K.J. Choi won the Sony Open last year, challenged at the British Open and was 16th on the money list.
 
Ogilvy, who is trying to join Ernie Els as the only players to sweep Hawaii, couldnt work that one out.
 
The leaderboard at the end was probably what the leaderboard at the end of a normal tournament would look like, he said of Kapalua. So its hard to know if its any different. You would assume its going to be harder in a full-field event. It would be harder in a full-field event if you had those 33 plus the other 111. But if you had 144 without those guys in it, it might be different.
 
There were similarities in Ogilvy winning last week at Kapalua and Choi winning last year at Waialae.
 
Ogilvy had a six-shot lead, stumbled around for eight holes, then poured it on with an eagle and five birdies over the next seven holes to win by the same margin with which he started, giving him a wire-to-wire victory.
 
Choi also won wire-to-wire, starting out with a four-shot lead, had his lead cut in half during some tense moments down the stretch and became the first Sony Open champion in 41 years to not break par in the final round.
 
The other similarity? A winners lei around their neck, and fond memories.
 
I expect a lot of good things to happen, Choi said. This year is going to be very exciting for me, and Im looking forward to it.
 
In that respect, he has plenty of company.
 
The field includes some two dozen PGA Tour rookies, 10 of whom have never teed it up on tour. And that doesnt include Chan, who is about 4 months older and 6 inches shorter than Michelle Wie when she made her Sony Open debut in 2004.
 
Tadd Fujikawa will be making his ninth start on the PGA Tour, and he still has another semester before he finishes high school. But the 18-year-old earned this spot in a Monday qualifier, hopeful that will get him more sponsor exemptions before he gets his diploma.
 
Fujikawa tied for 20th in 2007 at age 16, the youngest player to make the cut on the PGA Tour in 50 years. That inspired him to turn pro, but he hasnt made a cut on the PGA Tour or European Tour since then.
 
He is struggling with his schedule, much like Wie when she was in high school, playing a few tournaments and then having to take a month off to learn about the Pythagorean theory.
 
Its hard to get any momentum going, Fujikawa said, presumably speaking of his golf. I feel like I play well one week, and then right when I start getting my game, I feel some confidence coming along and then Im on a break. So it just kills it.
 
He plans to play a mini-tour this summer, but would love to perform before his hometown crowd the way he did in 2007.
 
Im going to go out there and win, he said of his expectations this week. Thats always my goal. A tournament is a tournament. Youre out there to win, and thats what Im going to try to do.
 
Thats one thing about the Sony Open that hasnt changed from last week' the trophy goes to the guy with the lowest score.
 

Related Links:
  • Leaderboard
  • Full Coverage ' Sony Open
  • GOLF CHANNEL Airtimes
  • Getty Images

    Koepka (wrist) likely out until the Masters

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 9:08 pm

    Defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is expected to miss at least the next two months because of a torn tendon in his left wrist.

    Koepka, who suffered a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU), is hoping to return in time for the Masters.

    In a statement released by his management company, Koepka said that doctors are unsure when the injury occurred but that he first felt discomfort at the Hero World Challenge, where he finished last in the 18-man event. Playing through pain, he also finished last at the Tournament of Champions, after which he underwent a second MRI that revealed the tear.

    Koepka is expected to miss the next eight to 12 weeks.

    “I am frustrated that I will now not be able to play my intended schedule,” Koepka said. “But I am confident in my doctors and in the treatment they have prescribed, and I look forward to teeing it up at the Masters. … I look forward to a quick and successful recovery.”

    Prior to the injury, Koepka won the Dunlop Phoenix and cracked the top 10 in the world ranking. 

    Getty Images

    Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 19, 2018, 7:09 pm

    In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.


    Made Cut

    Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.

    Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.

    “If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

    McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.

    “The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

    September can’t get here quick enough.

    Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.

    There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.

    In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.


    Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

    On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.

    “I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage.”

    The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”

    Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.

    Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.

    The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.

    The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.

    “My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.


    Missed Cut

    Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.

    After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.

    It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.

    Tweet of the week:

    It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”

    The alert turned out to be a mistake, someone pushed the wrong button during a shift change, but for many, like Peterson, it was a serious lesson in perspective.

    Getty Images

    Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

    Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

    While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

    “I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

    Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

    <
    Getty Images

    DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

    Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

    “I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

    Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

    “Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

    Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

    “It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.”