What We Learned: The Hyundai TOC in Maui

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 10, 2012, 1:30 am

Each week, the GolfChannel.com team will offer up thoughts on 'what we learned' from the most recent PGA Tour event. This week, the team ponders the aftermath of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, where Steve Stricker held onto his substantial lead in Monday's final round to top Martin Laird and the other 25 players in the field for his first Maui victory.

I learned that a change in the calendar doesn’t determine a change in skill level or talent. At the beginning of every year, we try to prognosticate which golfers will enjoy a massive dose of success and which will see a major drop-off in results.

Steve Stricker seemed to fit the latter category. He turns 45 next month and owns a game predicated on putting – a skill that often starts eluding top players later in their careers. Maybe that will gradually be the case, but this week Stricker looked very much like the same player who won twice last season.

Just because the calendar has changed doesn’t mean everything will change with it. So much for that predicted drop-off. Stricker isn’t going anywhere for a while.  Jason Sobel

If the PGA Tour insists on starting the season this soon in the new year, I believe starting in Maui is the perfect place to set the tone for the year. The limited field, the breathtaking vistas from Kapalua's Plantation Course, and of course, the humpback whales frolicking in and around the Hawaiian waters.  Golf Guy

The season’s first turn proved for the umpteenth time that, like Savile Row, the London street known for its tailoring timelessness, good putting never goes out of fashion. At Kapalua, where statistics like greens in regulation and fairways hit are relatively meaningless, Steve Stricker cruised to victory on a 28.5 putts per round average.

We also learned that cortisone, although not considered a “performance-enhancing drug,” can work miracles. At East Lake in September Stricker sounded like a man on the brink of career-threatening neck surgery, two cortisone shots and four months later he’s halfway home to becoming the only player to record multiple PGA Tour victories in four consecutive seasons.  Rex Hoggard

I learned that Steve Stricker was faking a neck injury during the latter part of 2011. He just wanted our sympathy right? If his neck was that seriously injured, no way he'd have rebounded so shortly after with a dominating victory at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.

It was only three-plus months ago when Stricker withdrew from the BMW Championship. He didn't play well at the Tour Championship, failed to rekindle the Presidents Cup magic with Tiger Woods in November then played poorly again at the Chevron World Challenge, finishing 16th in an 18-man field. He was a walking question mark.

What I really learned is that Stricker is good, damn good. Can't wait to see how he follows it up this week at the Sony Open.   Jay Coffin

Apparently, that’s not lava spitting from those Hawaiian volcanoes.

It’s bubbling cheese.

Wisconsin’s Steve Stricker won the Hyundai Championship Monday on the island of Maui, and now fellow cheesehead Mark Wilson takes center stage on Oahu. Wilson is the defending champion at the Sony Open this week.

Who knew Hawaii was a dairy state? It isn’t, of course. In fact, there are only three dairy farms in the state of Hawaii. Still, Wisconsin looks like it owns the state this week.

And at 44, Stricker looks like he won’t easily give up his perch as the highest ranked American in the Official World Golf Ranking.  Randall Mell

I learned that it’s never too early in the year for controversy, and the 2012 season-opener delivered.

After Nick Watney’s opening round at Kapalua, his caddie Chad Reynolds was brought in for questioning by PGA Tour rules official Slugger White. Reynolds was believed to have tested the surface of the green on the seventh hole, where he bent down behind Watney and moved his hand back and forth in a swiping motion on the green.

It was decided – Reynolds said he didn’t touch the surface, Watney stood by his caddie’s word and White concurred with the gentlemen – that there was no breach of the rules and Watney did not receive a penalty.

What’s a little golf without some drama and what’s a season opener without some controversy? – Bailey Mosier

Fitzpatrick one back in 2018 Euro Tour opener

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 1:37 pm

HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia had six birdies and a bogey Thursday for a 5-under 65 and a one-stroke lead at the Hong Kong Open, the first event of the 2018 European Tour season.

Playing in sunny but breezy conditions at the Hong Kong Golf Club, the greens had the players struggling to gauge the approach.

''Very tough conditions today,'' Chawrasia said. ''It's very firm greens, to be honest. I'm just trying to hit the second shot on the green and trying to make it like a two-putt.''

Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open

Shubhankar Sharma and Matthew Fitzpatrick (both 66) were one shot behind, while seven others were tied for fourth a further stroke behind.

''Hit it great tee to green,'' Fitzpatrick said. ''I think I had like seven or eight chances inside 15 feet, and on a day like today when it's so windy and such a tough golf course, with how tight it is, yeah, it was a good day.''

Justin Rose, who won the title in 2015, shot was 2 under with five birdies and three bogeys.

''I think the course played a couple shots harder than it typically does,'' Rose said. ''I like this course. I think it offers plenty of birdie opportunities.''

Masters champion Sergio GarciaRafa Cabrera Bello and defending champion Sam Brazel (69) were in a group of 16 at 1 under.

Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

Leaderboard: Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

What it means: Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Web.com Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday. 

Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 2:50 am

Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.

Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 2:32 am

SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.

Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.

''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.

But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.

In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.

''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''

Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.

The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his Web.com card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.

''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''

NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.