Hyundai Tournament of Champions Q and A

By Jason SobelJanuary 5, 2013, 10:31 pm

KAPALUA, Hawaii – They say the Masters doesn’t really begin until the back nine on Sunday. Here at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, that may be literally true.

We’re officially two days into the PGA Tour season and the season hasn’t officially started yet. If that sounds like a riddle wrapped in an enigma, you clearly haven’t been paying attention to the festivities in Maui – or lack thereof.

After the initial opening round was wiped away just two hours into play on Friday, the scheduled restart never happened on Saturday, with strong, gusting winds canceling the day for good following three one-hour delays.

So … now what? Well, you’ve got questions, we’ve got answers. Here’s everything you always wanted to know about this tournament (but were afraid to ask).

Q: Why didn’t they at least try to play on Saturday?

A: They did try. And tried and tried. First tee time was scheduled for 7:30 a.m. local time, then delayed until 8:30, then 9:30 and finally 10:30 before it was finally called off for the day.


Hyundai TOC: Articles, videos and photos


Q: Well, why didn’t they keep trying?

A: The strongest winds were expected between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. It wasn’t getting any better. Even if the conditions calmed down after that, they weren’t getting in 18. Besides, ever see Bubba Watson after hours of being told to sit still and be patient? It’s a shock he didn’t start hitting balls through the clubhouse windows.

Q: I play in wind all the time! These guys are such babies.

A: That’s not a question.

Q: Fine. I play in wind all the time! Why are these guys such babies?

A: That’s better. They’re not. That isn’t the issue here. Players aren’t whining about the conditions; they were simply unfit for play. Here’s the deal: If you can’t get the ball to stop rolling on the greens, you can’t play golf. Rules officials were testing the greens during the delays. They would drop a ball and watch it roll all the way off the greens – and that was uphill! It’s not as if the players revolted and refused to play. It was the rules officials who made the decision.

Q: Yeah, but those guys are just protecting these spoiled players. Sorry, I mean: Aren’t those guys just protecting these spoiled players?

A: Nope. Just listen to some of ‘em.

“It’s just ignorant. Come out here and see what we’re dealing with,” Zach Johnson said of those who disagree with the decision. “We can’t use an umbrella because of the wind. If it rains with the wind, that is not easy. And like I said, the ball won’t stop on the greens. So if the ball won’t stop on the greens, you can’t play golf. We’ve played in winds, but when you have gusts in the 40s on hills like this, it just makes it almost impossible.”

“We’re willing to play,” Hunter Mahan explained. “But you can’t when the ball is just moving on its own like it was yesterday. Wind is one thing. But on this golf course, that’s where the difficulty sets in. If it can’t stay on the green and it can hit and spin and roll right off into a bunker, I guarantee you people aren’t playing in that. Not in Hawaii on a mountain with greens that have a lot of slope. I play in Texas all the time, where it blows really hard, but it’s not designed the same. Wind doesn’t bother us. This is just a perfect storm of strong tradewinds at the wrong time of year.”

Q: Don’t they play the British Open every year in stronger winds than these?

A: Yes. And if St. Andrews was built into the side of a mountain, not only would balls roll off the greens, they’d never stop.

Q: So now what happens?

A: The opening round of the season is scheduled for a two-tee start on Sunday, with 36 holes beginning at 7:10 a.m. local time.

Q: Will they actually play or is it just going to be more waiting around?

A: The forecast sounds better than the first two days, with 20- 25-mph winds and gusts into the 30s, but nothing like the 45- 50-mph gusts that we’ve witnessed so far.

Q: Are they still going to play 72 holes?

A: No. The intention is to play a 54-hole tournament, with 36 on Sunday and 18 on Monday.

Q: What if delays prevent the first two rounds from being played on Sunday?

A: According to PGA Tour vice president of rules and competition Slugger White, “Tuesday is not out of the realm as yet. But let's get through tomorrow first.”

Q: Why was this tournament slated for a Monday finish in the first place?

A: Well, the prevailing feeling was that it helped the final round get out of the shadow of NFL playoff games, which is well intentioned until you consider that the final game would be over before the telecast reached prime time on the East Coast. With a Monday finish, though, it’s backed right up against college football’s BCS Championship game. In this specific situation, it’s certainly hurt to lose an extra 24 hours.

Q: Is there a possibility of a 36-hole event?

A: There are a few PGA Tour executives who are fond of saying, “I don’t deal in hypotheticals.” It’s a valid question, though. Officials will do everything in their ability to play 54. If they can’t, a 36-hole winner would be deemed unofficial and – irony of ironies – wouldn’t qualify for this tournament next year.

Q: Going 36 in one day on this course is brutal. What about splitting up the rounds?

A: In his Saturday media session, White had the following exchange with a reporter:

“Were there any thoughts of 27 and 27?”

“No.”

“Why?”

“Just because.”

“Just because?”

“Because I didn't think about it.”

So … that should clear up that scenario.

Q: Isn’t this a perfect reason for moving this tournament?

A: Huh? This tournament has never seen weather like this. If it was an annual thing, sure. But one brief period of anomaly shouldn’t serve as a death knell for this event.

“All the years it’s been here, they’ve never ever even had to evacuate anyone off the golf course,” George McNeill said. “It’s just not something you can plan on, especially here in Hawaii.”

Q: So who’s more depressed about this – the players or the fans?

A: Might have to go to a playoff to determine this one. As Johnson said, “There’s no winner in this. It stinks for everybody. It stinks for us players, certainly. It stinks for the fans. It really stinks for the rules officials. And it probably stinks the most for the sponsors.”

That’s a lot of stink going around.

Q: That answers pretty much everything. Just one more question: What’s going to become of those 17 fans who were still dutifully sitting under umbrellas on the first tee bleachers after the final announcement was made on Saturday?

A: One of two things. Either they’ll each earn co-PGA Tour Fan of the Year honors or they’ll catch the flu. Maybe both.

Marc Dull (Florida State Golf Association)

Cops called in bizarre ending to Florida Mid-Am

By Ryan LavnerMay 20, 2018, 7:16 pm

In a one-paragraph post on its website, the Florida State Golf Association declared Marc Dull the winner of the 37th Mid-Amateur Championship on May 13 after his opponent – in a tie match with two holes to go – was unable to return because of an “unfortunate injury” sustained during a lengthy weather delay.

Left unreported was what allegedly happened.

According to a police report (see below) obtained by GolfChannel.com, the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office received a call that afternoon from Dull’s opponent, Jeff Golden, who claimed that he’d been assaulted in the parking lot at Coral Creek Club, the tournament host site in Placida. In a statement provided to police, Golden said that he was sucker-punched in the face by Dull’s caddie, Brandon Hibbs.

Both in his statement to police and in a subsequent phone interview afterward, Golden, 33, said that the alleged incident stemmed from a rules dispute on the ninth hole during the championship match. As he surveyed his putt, Golden asked Dull whether the cup was damaged or if there was loose debris around the edge.

“Don’t worry about it,” Hibbs reportedly told Golden. “If you’re going to make it, you’re going around it.”

With tensions already running high because of what he perceived as breaches of etiquette by his opponents, Golden informed the rules official in the group that he believed Hibbs’ statement constituted advice. The penalty was a loss of hole, giving Golden a 2-up lead at the turn.

At that point, Hibbs told police, he recused himself and returned to the clubhouse. Dull and Golden continued their match, heading to the 17th hole all square when they were pulled off the course because of inclement weather.

Golden told police that he headed to the parking lot at 2:45 p.m. to retrieve some dry clothes from his car when Hibbs “approached him, apologized, then punched him on the left side of the face,” causing him to fall to the ground.

“I had a moment where I was happy to see him, because the first thing he said to me was, ‘I want to apologize,’” Golden said last week in a phone interview. “By the time he finished I was being punched.”

Asked why he believed Hibbs would strike him, Golden said: “It was from the earlier ruling, 100 percent. He had anger toward me because I called him out on a ruling.”

In a statement given to police, Hibbs, 36, said that he had “been in the clubhouse the entire time and did not batter [Golden], nor was he in the parking lot.” Hibbs, who caddies with Dull at Streamsong Resort in Central Florida, did not return a message seeking comment.

Police wrote in the report that there were no witnesses to the alleged attack, nor was there any surveillance video from the parking lot. While observing Golden the officer noted “no swelling or abrasions to the face,” but there was “some redness on the inside of [Golden’s] lip.” Hibbs’ hands and knuckles showed “no scrapes or abrasions.”

Golden, however, said that there were three bloodstains on his shirt and punctures inside his mouth that proved he’d been struck. He also described himself afterward as “dizzy” and seeing “weird shades of colors,” and that the area between his wrist and thumb was “very sensitive” from catching his fall. Still feeling woozy, he met with his doctor the day after the alleged incident and also underwent a CT scan on Friday.

“I was extremely shaken up,” he said. “I had concussion symptoms.”

Golden declined to press charges – he said later that he wasn’t given the option, because of a lack of physical evidence – and refused medical attention.

Reached by phone last week, Dull said that he had no knowledge of the alleged attack and was only made aware once the police arrived. He said he had waited out the delay in a storm shelter.

“It was shocking,” he said. “[Hibbs] said to me, ‘I didn’t touch the guy.’”

Once the police left, it was up to the FSGA to determine how to proceed.

With the course now playable after a two-hour delay, under the Rules of Golf, the players were expected back on the 17th hole.

Golden asked Dull whether he would concede the match.

“I said that I wasn’t going to concede,” Dull said. “Why would I concede the match when I was sitting in the shelter, and when I come back someone is accused of being hit?”

So Golden then decided to concede, handing the Mid-Am title to Dull, the reigning FSGA Amateur Player of the Year.

“I just wanted to get home,” Golden explained later.

Asked last week for more details about the final result, Jeff Magaditsch, the organization’s director of tournament operations, said in an email that Golden “expressed concern about a wrist issue” and that “not much additional information is available.”

A day later, once the details of the police report became available, FSGA executive director Jim Demick said that Golden “didn’t want to play anymore.”

“Regrettably, the golf course was very playable and Jeff understood that he needed to resume the match,” he said. “I think he was just ready to go.”

When asked to comment on the alleged attack, Demick said that the police “found absolutely no evidence of an assault.”

Last week Golden, who qualified for the 2007 U.S. Open and is now a tennis pro at Palencia in St. Augustine, appealed the FSGA’s decision, writing in a letter that tournament officials shouldn’t have accepted his concession.

Dull said that he was “annoyed by the whole incident.”

“I think it taints the entire championship,” he said. “It’s unfortunate. No golf tournament should end that way.”

Getty Images

Delayed start for Nelson might mean Monday finish

By Will GrayMay 20, 2018, 6:04 pm

DALLAS – Inclement weather  pushed back final-round tee times at the AT&T Byron Nelson by more than four hours, increasing the likelihood of a Monday finish in the tournament’s debut at Trinity Forest Golf Club.

With the field already scheduled to play in threesomes off split tees, the opening tee times for the day got pushed back from 9:23 a.m. CT to 1:23 p.m. because of steady rain in the area. The delay means that the final group won’t start their round until 3:35 p.m. local time.

With sunset in the Dallas area scheduled for 8:23 p.m., the leaders will likely have just under five hours to complete their rounds or face returning to the course Monday morning. Threesomes have been used for each of the first three days, and in part because of the intricacies of the new layout rounds have routinely approached 5 hours and 30 minutes in duration.

Should play spill over into Monday, those playing next week’s event will face one of the Tour’s shortest commutes, with Fort Worth Invitational host Colonial Country Club less than an hour away.

Marc Leishman and Aaron Wise share the 54-hole lead at 17 under, four shots clear of the field. They’ll be joined in the final trio by Australia’s Matt Jones, who is tied for third with Kevin Na.

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Watch: Tiger 'drops mic' in long drive contest

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 20, 2018, 12:44 am

Tiger Woods is in Las Vegas this weekend for the 20th annual Tiger Jam charity event that benefits his foundation.

During the tournament on Saturday afternoon, Woods challenged World Long Drive competitor Troy Mullins to a long drive contest.

 

A post shared by TROY MULLINS (@trojangoddess) on May 19, 2018 at 1:25pm PDT

Safe to say it looks like Tiger won.

Getty Images

Sunday showdown for Wise, Leishman at Nelson

By Will GrayMay 19, 2018, 11:40 pm

DALLAS – While the swirling Texas winds may still have their say, the AT&T Byron Nelson is shaping up to be a two-horse race.

With a four-shot gulf between them and their closest pursuers, co-leaders Marc Leishman and Aaron Wise both stepped up to the microphone and insisted the tournament was far from over. That it wouldn’t revert to a match-play situation, even though the two men didn’t face much pressure from the pack down the stretch of the third round and have clearly distanced themselves as the best in the field through 54 holes.

But outside of an outlier scenario or a rogue tornado sweeping across Trinity Forest Golf Club, one of the two will leave with trophy in hand tomorrow night.

That’s in part because of their stellar play to this point, but it’s also a byproduct of the tournament’s new and unconventional layout: at Trinity Forest, big numbers are hard to find.

Even with the winds picking up during the third round and providing the sternest challenge yet, the field combined for only 16 scores of double bogey, and nothing worse than that.


Full-field scores from the AT&T Byron Nelson

AT&T Byron Nelson: Articles, photos and videos


There’s irony in a course called Trinity Forest offering a tree-less test, sure, but there are also no water hazards in play here. For the most part, players have been maxing out with bogey – and Leishman and Wise have combined for only six of those so far this week.

If someone from the chase pack is going to catch them, the two sharing the pole position aren’t going to do them any favors.

“I don’t really want to give them a chance,” Leishman said. “I’d love to go out and shoot a low one and make Aaron have to shoot a good score tomorrow to beat me, which, I fully expect him to shoot a good score.”

While Leishman has been somewhat of a late bloomer on the PGA Tour, with only one win across his first eight seasons, he now has a golden opportunity to add a third trophy in the last 14 months. He has felt right at home on a sprawling layout that reminds him of a few back in his native Australia, and he’s part of a Down Under invasion on a leaderboard that also includes Matt Jones (-13) and Adam Scott (-9).

While Wise briefly held sole possession of the lead, Leishman has seemingly held an iron grip on the top spot since opening his week with a blistering 61.

“Before last year, I was a pretty slow starter. I always got off to a slow start Thursday, or I’d be fighting to make the cut and have a good weekend to slide into the top 10,” Leishman said. “Getting into that round straight away on the first tee rather than the ninth green or something, which sounds like a really basic thing, but it’s something I didn’t do very well until last year.”

But as Leishman acknowledged, he likely can’t count on a stumble from Wise to help finish off a wire-to-wire victory. As the youngest player to make the cut this week, Wise is facing a challenge of taking down a top-ranked Aussie for the second time in as many starts.

While he came up short at the Wells Fargo Championship, tying for second behind Jason Day, he remains supremely confident that he can put those hard-earned lessons to use this time around.

“I feel like it’s a great opportunity,” Wise said. “It will obviously be a huge day for me. I feel like having one go at it already, I’m a little more confident going into it this time.”

Even among the landscape of the Tour’s promising next wave, Wise stands out as a particularly young gun. Still only 21, he could feasibly be heading to Karsten Creek next week with his Oregon Duck teammates to close out his senior season with another NCAA championship appearance.

But Wise turned pro after winning the NCAA individual title as a sophomore, and he steadily worked his way through the professional ranks: first a win on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada, then one last summer on the Web.com Tour.

Now he’s poised to turn what he described as a “lackluster” season before his Quail Hollow runner-up into one that defies even his own expectations.

“Absolutely, I am way ahead of the curve. It’s pretty hard to do what I’ve done at such a young age. Only a few have done it,” Wise said. “I feel like I’m getting some great experience for a kid this young. It’s only going to serve me well down the road.”

An unpredictable Coore-Crenshaw layout will have one more day to star, and outside of Wise the top six names on the leaderboard have at least one Tour win to their credit. But after the two men traded punches on a firm and fast afternoon, it sure feels like the final round is shaping up to offer more of the same.

For Leishman, it’s a chance to add another notch to some quickly expanding credentials; for Wise, it’s an opportunity to win on the one level he has yet to do so.

“It’s golf, at the end of the day. If you play better than everyone else, you’re going to win,” Wise said. “That’s why I play it. That’s why I love this sport, and tomorrow is nothing different.”