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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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

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Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.

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Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

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