Kapaluas test like few others on PGA Tour

By Doug FergusonJanuary 11, 2010, 2:25 am
SBS Championship

KAPALUA, Hawaii – From the left side of the 12th fairway about 145 yards from the hole, Geoff Ogilvy hit a low, boring shot well to the left of the green. It landed short, crawled onto the green and rolled hard to the right with the grain to about 25 feet.

Sean O’Hair was next to hit from 125 yards. He hit a high shot at the flag that checked up about 20 feet above the hole.

That snapshot – both made pars – is but one example why the Plantation Course at Kapalua is perhaps the most unique golf course on the PGA Tour. Not only was the course carved out of the side of a mountain by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, each round can bring so many elements that change the strategy.

Beyond that, consider some of the nuances:

  • It is the only PGA Tour course that plays to a par 73.
  • Only one other course has six par-4s that measure under 400 yards – Pebble Beach, which is played at sea level in soft conditions.
  • No other PGA Tour course has seven holes that are longer than 500 yards. Stephen Ames figured one exception might be the U.S. Open, “and that’s with no elevation change.” Alas, he was mistaken. Bethpage Black only had five holes over 500 yards with very little elevation change, and a lot of rain.

The elevation change at Kapalua is best captured from the 17th tee down the mountain to the first green. Those three holes combine to play at 1,691 yards, with only one of them a par 5. That would be the 663-yard 18th hole.

With no wind, Ernie Els set a PGA Tour record for 72 holes at 31 under par. With a lot of wind, Stuart Appleby won for the third straight time at Kapalua in 2006 at 8 under par.

David Duval won by nine shots, Els won by eight and Ogilvy won by six. There also have been four playoffs in 11 years.

“There have been cases where guys go crazy and win by a lot because it gives you a lot of birdies if you play really well,” Ogilvy said. “But it keeps guys in it if they’re not driving it quite as well. It’s easy to hit the fairways. It can bunch guys, as well.”

There have been some peculiar sights this week, such as Troy Matteson staring in disbelief at his pitch mark on the 18th fairway. Playing down the right side with hopes of catching the slope and grain, his ball actually bounced sideways and slightly backward. It landed in a tiny area next to three sprinkler heads. His bad luck.

Maui has not received much rain over the last month, and the course doesn’t look overly lush, even though players feel as though they are not getting the roll they have received in years past.

Slugger White, the PGA Tour official in charge of the course, said the only watering this week was by hand to catch “hot spots” that are brown and can die.

Chalk that up to windy conditions.

The course was built with trade wind in mind, yet this week featured the Kona wind. The trade wind blows toward the ocean, meaning the wind goes in the same direction as the slope and the grain. The ball then rolls for miles, or at least it seems that way. This is the week to record 400-yard drives, and there have been six of them going into the final round.

With the Kona wind, it blows up the hill and into the grain, which reduces the roll.

One hole that speaks to the wind change was the 17th on Saturday, which is 508 yards down the hill as a par 4. O’Hair pounded a driver and hit 3-wood for his second shot in the opening round. The tees were moved forward Saturday because of the opposite wind, yet when O’Hair reached the 17th tee, the conditions had switched to a trade wind.

He hit a 3-wood to the right to avoid running through the fairway, leaving him an 8-iron to the green. A 9-iron would have been more appropriate, for he flew the green.

Next week is the Sony Open at Waialae, where about the only elevation change is three steps leading out the clubhouse.

QUICK TRIP: Heath Slocum was bringing up the rear at the SBS Championship going into the final round, although it was a minor victory that he even made it to Kapalua.

Just his luck, when he finally wins again to qualify, the tournament is right around the time his wife, Victoria, is expecting their second child. She is not due until next week, yet Slocum took every precaution.

He was standing at the ticket counter in Atlanta earlier this week, ready to check his luggage, when he made one more phone call. His wife was at the doctor and reported no indications of impending birth.

Slocum turned to the baggage clerk and said, “Here you go,” and away he went.

He planned to leave Maui on Sunday night, and the plan was to induce labor on Tuesday. Slocum said he likely would return at the Bob Hope Classic, assuming all goes well.
PHILLIES & PEREZ: Pat Perez is desperate to make the Ryder Cup team and believes he can bring a lot to a team room. He already has some experience, although not in golf.

Perez has been part of the Philadelphia Phillies the last few years through Pat Burrell, his neighbor.

“I was part of that (2008) team because I know all of the guys, I had my locker there, I would come and see them all the time,” Perez said. “I would really root for them like I was part of the team.”

Locker? During spring training?

“No, the whole thing,” Perez said. “I would hit balls with Jimmy Rollins, go out on the field and play catch, whatever. I was like one of them for that year.”

Sadly, Burrell was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays, and Perez was devastated.

“Worse than me getting hurt,” Perez said.
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Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.