KAPALUA, Hawaii – Players at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions faced a dramatically altered golf course when they arrived for Round 3.
After five days of trade winds, which blow from the northeast, players faced Kona winds, which come from the southwest, which led to an interesting difference of opinion when it came to which of the two breezes is most difficult when playing the Plantation Course.
“It seems like at least the first few holes are a lot harder with the [trade] winds,” said Jimmy Walker, whose third-round 64 was his best round this week. “Everything seems to be just a little more difficult from that direction.”
The scoring average would support Walker’s contention; Saturday’s average (69.53) was lower than it was on Thursday (70.59) and Friday (69.71).
Leader Jordan Spieth, however, had a different take.
“Today's wind is the harder wind of the two,” said Spieth, who posted his second-best round (65) on Saturday in seven trips around the Plantation Course. “There's certain holes whenever you have a wind that goes away from the way the golf course plays, it's just going to be a little awkward for you.”
Spieth explained, for example, that on the par-4 12th Saturday, he hit a “full” 8-iron to the front edge of the green, which he’d almost driven the first two days.
The good news for the front-runner, and the rest of the field, is that Sunday’s forecast calls for a rare, calm day at Kapalua.