Aloha swing nothing alike in field golf courses

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.
 

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    Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

    By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

    Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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    Rahm (62) fires career low round

    By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

    The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

    Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

    What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

    Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

    Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

    Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

    Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

    Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

    Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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    Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

    Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

    "Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

    Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.


    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

    "That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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    Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

    By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

    There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

    Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

    Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

    Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.

    @tommyfleetwood_1

    A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

    The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

    It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.