KAPALUA, Hawaii – The winners assembled at Kapalua are pampered like no other stop on the PGA Tour.
They get a free room at the Ritz-Carlton with magnificent views of the Maui coastline, amenities that include a butler-drawn bath and spa treatment. It’s the easiest tournament all year to win with only 28 players, and no cut means free money.
Hardly anyone expects paradise inside the ropes, too.
On another day of relatively calm conditions Friday, Lucas Glover had another hot stretch that carried him to an 8-under 65 in the SBS Championship, giving him a three-shot lead over John Rollins and the lowest 36-hole score at Kapalua in five years.
“We were talking about this at breakfast,” he said. “Nobody who’s been to Hawaii has seen it this calm. This is nice for us. We get to be a little more aggressive. Club selection is a lot easier. I wouldn’t mind seeing it come up and having some goofy stuff go on, just for fun.”
Glover couldn’t help but notice on his way to the Plantation Course on Friday that the Pacific Ocean had rarely looked so still, an expanse of deep blue without the raging white caps produced by the typical trade win. Rollins watches this tournament on TV when he’s not eligible, and he usually sees flags and trousers whipping in the wind.
“You come over with the mindset the wind is going to howl,” Rollins said. “If I’m home watching in on TV, guys pants are whipping in the wind, they’re hitting short clubs from crazy yardages, they’re defensive on every shot. To get rounds like this is fantastic.”
That doesn’t make winning any easier.
Glover was at 15-under 131 and will be in the last pairing Saturday with Rollins, who played bogey-free for a 66.
The group at 11-under 135 featured defending champion Geoff Ogilvy (66), Sean O’Hair (67), Matt Kuchar (68) and Martin Laird (68), with Masters champion Angel Cabrera slowing after a good start for a 68 that put him five shots behind.
If not for Glover’s big surge, it could have been really tight.
Early in the second round, 11 players were tied for the lead at 7 under. Glover was making pars and losing ground until he turned it around with a 7-iron into the par-5 sixth green and a two-putt birdie. That was the start of a six-hole stretch that he played in 6 under, and another run of birdies on the back nine put him ahead.
Even so, one par was as meaningful as some of his birdies.
After running off three straight birdies, Glover hit into a bunker on the par-3 eighth and couldn’t believe his bad luck when the ball ran down the face and all the way to the back of the bunker, on a slight slope, forcing him to play the shot with both feet out of the sand. He did well to blast out to 12 feet and make par.
“That felt good taking that to the ninth tee,” he said.
Glover hit a pair of 3-woods, the second one to 12 feet for an eagle, then he stuffed a wedge inside 4 feet on the 10th for birdie.
Just like that, he was back in control, and Glover made sure he stayed there with a few more birdies late in his round, including a wedge that bounced off the flag at the 16th and settled next to the cup.
“I’m pretty aggressive, anyway, so I’m going to have to pick my spots,” Glover said. “I’m going to have to make some birdies. These guys are the best players in the world, and they’re going to be coming after me.”
O’Hair noticed Glover at 11 under when he walked off the 13th green. The next time he saw a leaderboard along the 17th fairway, he saw Glover at 14 under, and everyone else moving up a couple of notches, too.
“There’s quite a few players out there that can win this thing and are playing some nice golf,” O’Hair said.
Glover had the lowest 36-hole score at Kapalua since Vijay Singh also was at 131 in 2005. The record was a 17-under 129 by Ernie Els in 2003, when he set a PGA Tour record at 31 under for a 72-hole event.
More wind might make a three-shot lead feel like nothing. Even in peaceful conditions, Glover realizes he has a long way to go.
“It’ll be hard to catch him if he’s playing as well as he is,” Ogilvy said. “But he’s going to have to keep playing well. In the wind, four or five shots can disappear. But if he’s even par on the front nine, three-fourths of that lead could be gone. We all know that if the weather is benign, we have to go low.”
Ogilvy played bogey-free and continues to pitch the ball cleanly, which he did last year in winning by six shots. O’Hair made a late push when he saw Glover’s score, pounding a 3-wood on the final hole that set up an eagle.
“You don’t see a leaderboard for three holes, and everyone is two shots better than the last time you saw one,” Ogilvy said.
He might want to get used to that. Moderate wind is expected for the weekend.
Glover stays hot at SBS Championship
KAPALUA, Hawaii – The winners assembled at Kapalua are pampered like no other stop on the PGA Tour.
Lesson with Woods fetches $210K for Harvey relief
A charity event featuring more than two dozen pro golfers raised more than $1 million for Hurricane Harvey relief, thanks in large part to a hefty price paid for a private lesson with Tiger Woods.
The pro-am fundraiser was organized by Chris Stroud, winner of the Barracuda Championship this summer, and fellow pro and Houston resident Bobby Gates. It was held at Bluejack National in Montgomery, Texas, about an hour outside Houston and the first Woods-designed course to open in the U.S.
The big-ticket item on the auction block was a private, two-person lesson with Woods at Bluejack National that sold for a whopping $210,000.
Other participants included local residents like Stacy Lewis, Patrick Reed and Steve Elkington as well as local celebrities like NBA All-Star Clyde Drexler, Houston Texans quarterback T.J. Yates and Houston Astros owner Jim Crane.
Stroud was vocal in his efforts to help Houston rebuild in the immediate aftermath of the storm that ravaged the city in August, and he told the Houston Chronicle that he plans to continue fundraising efforts even after eclipsing the event's $1 million goal.
"This is the best event I have ever been a part of, and this is just a start," Stroud said. "We have a long way to go for recovery to this city, and we want to keep going with this and raise as much as we can and help as many victims as we can."
LPGA schedule features 34 events, record purse
The LPGA schedule will once again feature 34 events next year with a record $68.75 million in total purses, the tour announced on Wednesday.
While three events are gone from the 2018 schedule, three new events have been added, with two of those on the West Coast and one in mainland China.
The season will again start with the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic on Paradise Island (Jan. 25-28) and end with the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Fla., (Nov. 15-18).
The LPGA played for $65 million in total prize money in 2017.
An expanded West Coast swing in the front half of the schedule will now include the HUGEL-JTBC Championship in the Los Angeles area April 19-22. The site will be announced at a later date.
The tour will then make a return to San Francisco’s Lake Merced Golf Club the following week, in a new event sponsored by L&P Cosmetics, a Korean skincare company. Both new West Coast tournaments will be full-field events.
The tour’s third new event will be played in Shanghai Oct. 18-21 as part of the fall Asian swing. The title sponsor and golf course will be announced at a later date.
“Perhaps the most important aspect of our schedule is the consistency — continuing to deliver strong playing opportunities both in North America and around the world, while growing overall purse levels every year,” LPGA commissioner Mike Whan said in a statement. “There is simply no better [women’s] tour opportunity in the world, when it comes to purses, global TV coverage or strength of field. It’s an exciting time in women’s golf, with the best players from every corner of the globe competing against each other in virtually every event.”
While the Evian Championship will again be played in September next year, the tour confirmed its plans to move its fifth major to the summer in 2019, to be part of a European swing, with the Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open and the Ricoh Women’s British Open.
The Manulife LPGA Classic and the Lorena Ochoa Invitational are not returning to the schedule next year. Also, the McKayson New Zealand Women’s Open will not be played next year as it prepares to move to the front of the 2019 schedule, to be paired with the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open.
The U.S. Women’s Open will make its new place earlier in the summer, a permanent move in the tour’s scheduling. It will be played May 31-June 3 at Shoal Creek Golf Club outside Birmingham, Ala. The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship (June 28-July 1) will be played at Kemper Lakes Golf Club on the north side of Chicago and the Ricoh Women’s British Open (Aug. 2-5) will be played at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in England.
For the first time since its inception in 2014, the UL International Crown team event is going overseas, with the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Incheon, South Korea, scheduled to host the event Oct. 4-7. The KEB Hana Bank Championship will be played in South Korean the following week.
Here is the LPGA's schedule for 2018:
Jan. 25-28: Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic; Paradise Island, Bahamas; Purse: $1.4 million
Feb. 15-18: ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open; Adelaide, Australia; Purse: $1.3 million
Feb. 21-24: Honda LPGA Thailand; Chonburi, Thailand; Purse: $1.6 million
March 1-4: HSBC Women's World Championship; Singapore; Purse: $1.5 million
March 15-18: Bank of Hope Founders Cup; Phoenix, Arizona; Purse: $1.5 million
March 22-25: Kia Classic; Carlsbad, California; Purse: $1.8 million
March 29 - April 1: ANA Inspiration; Rancho Mirage, California; Purse: $2.8 million
April 11-14: LOTTE Championship; Kapolei, Oahu, Hawaii; Purse: $2 million
April 19-22: HUGEL-JTBC Championship; Greater Los Angeles, California; Purse: $1.5 million
April 26-29: Name to be Announced; San Francisco, California; Purse: $1.5 million
May 3-6: Volunteers of America LPGA Texas Classic; The Colony, Texas; Purse: $1.3 million
May 17-20: Kingsmill Championship; Williamsburg, Virginia; Purse: $1.3 million
May 24-27: LPGA Volvik Championship; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Purse: $1.3 million
May 31 - June 3: U.S. Women's Open Championship; Shoal Creek, Alabama; Purse: $5 million
June 8-10: ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer; Galloway, New Jersey; Purse: $1.75 million
June 14-17: Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Purse: $2 million
June 22-24: Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G; Rogers, Arkansas; Purse: $2 million
June 28 - July 1: KPMG Women's PGA Championship; Kildeer, Illinois; Purse: $3.65 million
July 5-8: Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic; Oneida, Wisconsin; Purse: $2 million
July 12-15: Marathon Classic presented by Owens-Corning and O-I; Sylvania, Ohio; Purse: $1.6 million
July 26-29: Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open; East Lothian, Scotland; Purse: $1.5 million
Aug. 2-5: Ricoh Women's British Open; Lancashire, England; Purse: $3.25 million
Aug. 16-19: Indy Women in Tech Championship presented by Guggenheim; Indianapolis, Indiana; Purse: $2 million
Aug. 23-26: CP Women's Open; Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada; Purse: $2.25 million
Aug. 30 - Sept. 2: Cambia Portland Classic; Portland, Oregon; Purse: $1.3 million
Sept. 13-16: The Evian Championship; Evian-les-Bains, France; Purse: $3.85 million
Sept. 27-30: Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Purse: $1.8 million
Oct. 4-7: UL International Crown; Incheon, Korea; Purse: $1.6 million
Oct. 11-14: LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship; Incheon, Korea; Purse: $2 million
Oct. 18-21: Name to be Announced; Shanghai, China; Purse: $2.1 million
Oct. 25-28: Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan Championship; New Taipei City, Chinese Taipei; Purse: $2.2 million
Nov. 2-4: TOTO Japan Classic; Shiga, Japan; Purse: $1.5 million
Nov. 7-10: Blue Bay LPGA; Hainan Island, China; Purse: $2.1 million
Nov. 15-18: CME Group Tour Championship; Naples, Florida; Purse: $2.5 million
Newsmaker of the Year: No. 4, Jordan Spieth
Dismissed because he’s supposedly too short off the tee, or not accurate enough with his irons, or just a streaky putter, Jordan Spieth is almost never the answer to the question of which top player, when he’s at his best, would win in a head-to-head match.
And yet here he is, at the age of 24, with 11 career wins and three majors, on a pace that compares favorably with the giants of the game. He might not possess the firepower of Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, but since he burst onto the PGA Tour in 2013 he has all that matters – a better résumé.
Spieth took the next step in his development this year by becoming the Tour’s best iron player – and its most mentally tough.
Just a great putter? Oh, puhleeze: He won three times despite putting statistics (42nd) that were his worst since his rookie year. Instead, he led the Tour in strokes gained-approach the green and this summer showed the discipline, golf IQ and bounce-back ability that makes him such a unique talent.
Even with his putter misbehaving, Spieth closed out the Travelers Championship by holing a bunker shot in the playoff, then, in perhaps an even bigger surprise, perfectly executed the player-caddie celebration, chest-bumping caddie Michael Greller. A few weeks later, sublime iron play carried him into the lead at Royal Birkdale, his first in a major since his epic collapse at the 2016 Masters.
Once again his trusty putter betrayed him, and by the time he arrived on the 13th tee, he was tied with Matt Kuchar. What happened next was the stuff of legend – a lengthy ruling, gutsy up-and-down, stuffed tee shot and go-get-that putt – that lifted Spieth to his third major title.
Though he couldn’t complete the career Grand Slam at the PGA, he’ll likely have, oh, another two decades to join golf’s most exclusive club.
In the barroom debate of best vs. best, you can take the guys with the flair, with the booming tee shots and the sky-high irons. Spieth will just take the trophies.
Masters Tournament: Return to the 12th; faltering on Sunday (T-11)
U.S. Open: 1 over usually good ... not at Erin Hills (T-35)
The Open: Unforgettable finish leads to major win No. 3 (1st)
PGA Championship: Career Grand Slam bid comes up well short (T-28)
TWO REGULAR TOUR WINS
AT&T Pebble Beach
FUN OUTSIDE OF TOUR LIFE
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com is counting down the top 10 Newsmakers of the Year as voted on by Golf Channel’s writers, editors, reporters and producers. Check out the list below, including future release dates:
No. 3: Dec. 14
No. 2: Dec. 15
No. 1: Dec. 18