Introductions in order at Sony Open

By Doug FergusonJanuary 13, 2011, 3:06 am

PGA TourHONOLULU – Maui is a reunion of winners. Oahu is more of a meet-and-greet.

The Sony Open is the first full-field event of the PGA Tour, a time filled with as much optimism as curiosity. It is not unusual to see veterans looking at names on the golf bags to figure out who some of these guys are. There are 26 rookies at Waialae, 10 of them who have never teed it up in any PGA Tour event.

“You walk on that range and you feel like you’re on a different tour,” Ernie Els said.

Paul Goydos, starting his 19th year on tour, mentioned that he had already met three players in the dining room.

Did they know him?

“Yeah, I think so,” Goydos said. “But when they say, ‘My dad loves your game,’ that’s when you know you’re in deep trouble.”

Goydos had hit his tee shot when he made a quick detour to the practice range to adjust his driver. When he got back to the first fairway, another player was right ahead of him. It was 20-year-old Bio Kim, the youngest player on tour this year, and among those who had never competed in a PGA Tour event.

Goydos introduced himself, and jokingly said, “I’m sure his dad has seen me play.” Kim, a South Korean who once lived in Irvine, Calif., for five years as a teenager, was asked if he knew anything about Goydos.

“You shot 59,” he said to him with a smile.

“At least I’m known for one thing,” said Goydos, who hit golf’s magic number at the John Deere Classic last year.

Such introductions are part of the charm of the Sony Open, a tournament that brings together veterans and rookies, old and new. The field includes 54-year-old Fred Funk, and he’s not even the oldest player at Waialae. That would be 67-year-old Dave Eichelberger, now a PGA club pro who recently won the Aloha Section and earned a spot in the field.

The rookies include Joseph Bramlett, a Stanford graduate who made it through Q-school on his first try and became the first player of black heritage since Tiger Woods to join the PGA Tour. There’s Keegan Bradley, the nephew of LPGA Tour star Pat Bradley, a pair of Nationwide Tour grads in Jamie Lovemark and Kevin Chappell.

This is the time to dream big.

Bramlett, who qualified for the U.S. Open last summer, knows he has never had any success on the PGA Tour. He also has never experienced any prolonged failure, which allows for such high hopes.

“Everyone is pretty optimistic,” Furyk said. “You’ve got goals, New Year’s resolutions, things you want to achieve. If you’re not optimistic this time of the year, I’d sure as hell hate to see what your attitude is like in October.

Ryan Palmer is the defending champion, and the field features four players from among the top 15 in the world, most of whom were at Kapalua last week for the season-opening Tournament of Champions.

Furyk had played four times before he got his PGA Tour card, and he remembers starting his rookie season in 1994 at the Sony Open. His father was with him and stepped away when Furyk took his spot on the practice range. Facing a hard Kona wind, into this face and blowing to the left, he took out a sand wedge and hit his first shot fat.

“I blew all this dirt and sand up in the air and it just coated the guy next to me, almost like I could hear it hitting him,” Furyk said. “I looked over to see who was behind me, and it was Lanny Wadkins.”

Another shot, same result.

Furyk tried his best to make light of the situation, no matter how mortified he was.

“I said, ‘I guess I’ll aim a little farther right on the next one,”’ Furyk said. “He was over his ball, and he looked up and said, ‘That would be nice.’ That was the only conversation.”

Welcome to the tour, kid.

Furyk turned out OK. He now has 16 wins, a major, a FedEx Cup title and he’s closing in on $50 million for his career.

Who’s next?

The player getting most of the attention is Lovemark, who won the money list on the Nationwide Tour last year and was part of the three-way playoff in Arizona in 2009 that also featured Rickie Fowler.

Of the American rookies last year, the only guy who won a tournament was Derek Lamely in Puerto Rico, an opposite-field event. Then again, no one paid much attention to Ben Curtis in 2003 in his rookie year until he was holding the claret jug.

Most rookies at least have the experience of having played on the Nationwide Tour. They know what it’s like to look for a good hotel, leave early after missing the cut, and realize that it doesn’t take long for fortunes to change.

Goydos spent a couple of years on the old Hogan Tour, which he said helped – but only so far.

“The first tournament I played, I remember walking through the locker room and Davis Love was walking in the opposite direction,” Goydos said. “The guy looked 9 feet tall.”

One theory is that rookies are more optimistic because they don’t know what they’re getting into yet.

“The older you get, the less you realize you know,” Goydos said. “It’s the same way with golf. You get out here long enough, you realize, ‘Wow, it is really hard to win.’ But maybe that’s another reason why I’ve only won twice.”

Rose (62) sets blistering pace in Indonesia

By Associated PressDecember 14, 2017, 3:06 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia – Justin Rose shot a 10-under 62 Thursday to take a two-stroke lead after the first round of the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, starting on the back nine at Royale Jakarta Golf Club, had five birdies to go out in 31, then birdied four of five holes midway through his final nine and another birdie on his last hole in the $750,000 tournament.


Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters


Gunn Charoenkul (64) was in second place and Kim Giwhan and Phachara Khongwatmai (both 65) were tied for third.

Brandt Snedeker shot 72. Ranked 51st in the world, the American is aiming for a strong finish in Jakarta to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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LaCava: Woods wouldn't talk after H.O.R.S.E. match

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 2:27 pm

The competitive streak within Tiger Woods knows no bounds - even on the basketball court, according to caddie Joe LaCava.

LaCava has been on Woods' bag since 2011, and he recently shared a story on "Inside the Ropes" on Sirius/XM PGA Tour Radio about a clash between the two men over a seemingly friendly game of H.O.R.S.E. Actually, it turned into nine straight games (and nine straight wins) for LaCava, who exploited a weakness in Woods' on-court strategy while leaning on a mid-length jumper of his own:

"The thing with him was if I missed a shot, which I missed plenty of shots, but if I missed the shot he'd go back down to the 3 (point line) because he liked to make the 3," LaCava said. "But it's harder obviously to make a 3, and I'd go right back to the baseline 12-footer, and he couldn't make it."

It's a short list of people who have beaten Woods nine times in any athletic pursuit, let alone in a row. But for LaCava, the fallout from his afternoon of on-court dominance was less than subtle.

"He did not talk to me the rest of the day," LaCava explained. "I didn't even get the old text, 'Dinner is ready,' because I stay across at the beach house. I didn't even get that text that night. I had to get take-out. He didn't announce he wasn't (talking), he just did it. I'm telling you, nine games in a row. Like I said, he's so competitive, even at something like that."

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 3, Tiger Woods

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 12:45 pm

After returning to competition at the Hero World Challenge in December 2016, Woods started the new year with an ambitious slate of tournament starts as he eyed his first full season since 2013. But he made it only three rounds, looking rusty en route to a missed cut at Torrey Pines before withdrawing abruptly in Dubai.

The “spasms” that led to that withdrawal turned out to be something far more serious, as Woods underwent his fourth and most invasive back surgery in April, a lumbar fusion. It brought with it an extensive rehabilitation, and at the Presidents Cup in September Woods humored the prospect that he might never again play competitive golf.

At Liberty National he also faced some scrutiny for an off-course incident from months prior. In May he was arrested for suspicion of DUI, an incident that produced a startling roadside video of an intoxicated Woods struggling to follow instructions from the arresting officer after driving erratically.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


While he was not drinking at the time, Woods was found to have a mix of several prescription medications in his system, including multiple painkillers. He checked himself into a private drug treatment program in July to address his dependency issues, and in October he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of reckless driving.

But the incident was barely a memory when Woods again made a return to competition in the Bahamas at the tournament he hosts. This time around he exceeded nearly every expectation, twice shooting 4-under 68 while tying for ninth among the 18-man field. Having re-tooled his swing following fusion surgery, Woods appeared relaxed, happy and healthy while briefly taking the lead during the tournament’s second round.

What lies ahead for Woods in 2018 remains uncertain, as the stop-and-start nature of this past season serves as a cautionary tale. But after a harrowing arrest and another serious surgery, he seems once again focused on his game, intent on chasing down a new crop of elite talent, some of whom are barely more than half his age.

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Tiger Woods at his 2017 DUI court hearing.

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Tiger Woods at his 2017 DUI court hearing.

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Woods goes from unsure of his pro golf future to resuming full golf activities

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Woods out and about in 2017

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Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 12:30 pm