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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Watch: Moore does impressions of Tiger, Poults, Bubba

By Grill Room TeamJuly 16, 2018, 10:36 pm
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Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 5:15 pm

Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.

Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.

Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.

Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:

12/1: Dustin Johnson

16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose

20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm

25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed

40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton

50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick

60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson

80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele

100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen

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Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 4:34 pm

If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.

Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.

Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.

Updated Official World Golf Ranking

There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.

There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.

John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.

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Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense

By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.

Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.

Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”

Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.

“I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”

But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.

“I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”