Par 5 Questions for Kapalua

By Randall MellJanuary 4, 2011, 6:52 pm
Five questions setting the agenda for the week ahead ...

How can the PGA Tour make its season-opener matter more?

The PGA Tour brass is in a spot hoping a storyline develops that will trump star power in its season opener at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.

Tiger Woods
The Kapalua event has had three name changes since Tiger Woods last competed. (Getty Images)
Or, more precisely, will trump the lack of star power.

If Stuart Appleby closes with a 59 Sunday to win at Kapalua’s Plantation Course ...

Or Graeme McDowell wins with a 40-foot eagle putt at the final hole ...

Or Anthony Kim sprays the crowd with a $25,000 bottle of Dom Perignon after blowing away the field by 10 shots ...

If any of that happens, maybe we’ll get the big-bang start the season opener appears to be lacking yet again.

With players ranked No. 1 (Lee Westwood), No. 3 (Martin Kaymer), No. 4 (Phil Mickelson) and No. 10 (Rory McIlroy) all passing on the winners-only event, the season begins once more with too much focus on who’s not in Hawaii than who is. British Open winner Louis Oosthuizen’s also not playing, meaning three of last year’s four major championship winners are passing.

PGA Tour leadership figured out how to get a big-bang finish with its FedEx Cup playoffs, but it seems a larger trick figuring out how to get a big-bang start amid the NFL playoffs. A more compelling season opener would be a giant bonus for golf fans. Starting the year with something like the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship would fit that bill.
Can you call it the season-opener without Tiger and Lefty?

Tiger Woods isn’t in Kapalua yet again, this time because he failed to qualify for the first time in his career. It means the year will feel like it’s officially starting in a familiar locale, the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, where Woods and Mickelson are expected to make their PGA Tour starts in three weeks.

Golf’s dynamic duo started last season ranked Nos. 1-2 in the world but combined to win one event, Mickelson’s Masters triumph. If they both struggle again this year, it’s a disconcerting turn for American golf. While there’s promise in the games of Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler, no other Americans compare in appeal to Woods and Mickelson. How Woods rebounds from his woes and how Mickelson rebounds from family challenges and arthritic trouble rank as the two most compelling season-opening stories.
Are Aussie rules in play again?

Australians have won five of the last seven season openers at Kapalua, and there are four from Down Under in this week’s 34-player field.

Aussie Geoff Ogilvy will be looking for a three-peat this week after winning at Kapalua in ’09 and ’10. If he wins again, he’ll equal fellow Aussie Stuart Appleby’s feat (2004-06). Appleby's in the field. So are fellow countrymen Jason Day and Adam Scott. Day won the HP Byron Nelson last year and logged a pair of top-5 finishes in the FedEx Cup playoffs. Scott won the Valero Texas Open in May and the European Tour’s Barclays Singapore Open in November.
Can these six young ‘uns keep the youth movement going?

Sixteen PGA Tour events were won by players in their 20s last season.

Six 20-somethings can keep the youth movement going in Hawaii this week.

Day (23), Bill Haas (28), Johnson (26), Kim (25), Hunter Mahan (28) and Camilo Villegas (28) are in this week’s field.
Where’s McDowell go from here?

McDowell soared from No. 40 in the world rankings at the start of last year to No. 5 starting this year.

With his U.S. Open victory at midseason, his clutch putt to help seal the European Ryder Cup victory and his triumphant duel over Tiger Woods at the Chevron World Challenge at season’s end, McDowell enters 2011 looking for more of the game’s large prizes.

“I know how much better I can get,” McDowell said last month. “There is a lot of room for improvement.”

McDowell starts the year with some major changes in his equipment arsenal. With his Callaway deal expiring Dec. 31, he opened the new year announcing a major new deal with Srixon. He’ll be playing Srixon irons, Cleveland wedges and Srixon balls this year. The changes, as they always are when a player’s coming off success like McDowell had in ’10, will be scrutinized in how they affect his quest to build on what he’s achieved.

Follow Randall Mell on Twitter @RandallMell
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Rose (64) peaking just ahead of the U.S. Open

By Nick MentaMay 25, 2018, 8:40 pm

A former U.S. Open champion appears to be finding his form just three weeks ahead of the year's second major.

Justin Rose ascended to the top of the leaderboard Friday at the Fort Worth Invitational, with rounds of 66-64 pushing him to 10 under par for the week.

Through 36 at Colonial, Rose has marked 12 birdies against just two bogeys.

"Yeah, I did a lot of good things today," Rose said. "I think, you know, the end of my round got a little scrappy, but until the last three holes it was pretty flawless. I think I hit every fairway pretty much and obviously every green to that point. ...

"Yeah, the way I played through, I guess through my first 15 holes today, was about as good as I've played in a long time."

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Rose won in back-to-back weeks last fall, stunning Dustin Johnson at the WGC-HSBC Championship and riding that victory right into another at the Turkish Airlines Open.

Now the 2013 U.S. Open winner at Merion feels himself once again rounding into form ahead of this year's Open at Shinnecock. A final-round 66 at The Players gave Rose something to focus on in his recent practice sessions with swing coach Sean Foley, as the two work to shore up the timing of Rose's transition into the downswing.

As for his decision to tee it up at Colonial for the first time since 2010, "It was more the run of form really," Rose explained. "I feel like if I didn't play here it was going to be a little spotty going into the U.S. Open. I felt like I wanted to play enough golf where I would have a good read on my game going into Shinnecock.

"So rather than the venue it was more the timing, but it's obviously it's just such a bonus to be on a great layout like this."

For whatever reason, Rose does tend to play his best golf at iconic venues, having won PGA Tour events at Muirfield Village, Aronimink, Cog Hill, Doral, Merion and Congressional.

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Koepka (63): Two wrist dislocations in two months

By Nick MentaMay 25, 2018, 8:19 pm

Brook Koepka's journey back from a wrist injury that kept him out four months hasn't been totally smooth sailing, even if his play has suggested otherwise.

Koepka on Friday fired a 7-under 63 to move up the leaderboard into a tie for third, three shots behind leader Justin Rose through the end of the morning wave at the Fort Worth Invitational.

After a slow start Thursday saw him play his first 13 holes 3 over, Koepka is 10 under with 11 birdies in his last 23 holes at Colonial.

"It doesn't matter to me. I could care less. I'm still going to try as hard as I can," Koepka said. "I don't care how many over or how many under I am. Still going to fight through it."

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Just like he's been fighting his wrist the last two months or so. Koepka reinjured his wrist the Wednesday of The Players when he was practicing on the range and had to halt mid-swing after a golf cart drove in front of him. He nonetheless managed to finish T-11.

And that's not the only issue he's had with that wrist during his return.

"We had a bone pop out of place. I didn't tell anybody, but, yeah, they popped it back in," Koepka admitted Friday. "Luckily enough we kind of popped it back into place right away so it wasn't stiff and I didn't have too, too many problems.

"Yeah. I mean, I've dislocated my wrist twice in the last two months. You know, different spots, but, I mean, it's fun. I'll be all right."

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Twitter spat turns into fundraising opportunity

By Rex HoggardMay 25, 2018, 6:30 pm

Country music star Jake Owen, along with Brandt Snedeker, has turned a spat on Twitter into a fundraising campaign that will support Snedeker’s foundation.

On Thursday, Owen was criticized during the opening round of the Tour’s Nashville Golf Open, which benefits the Snedeker Foundation, for his poor play after opening with an 86.

In response, Snedeker and country singer Chris Young pledged $5,000 for every birdie that Owen makes on Friday in a campaign called NGO Birdies for Kids

Although Owen, who is playing the event on a sponsor exemption, doesn’t tee off for Round 2 in Nashville until 2 p.m. (CT), the campaign has already generated interest, with NBC Sports/Golf Channel analyst Peter Jacobsen along with Tour player Zac Blair both pledging $100 for every birdie Owen makes.

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Noren so impressed by Rory: 'I'm about to quit golf'

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 25, 2018, 5:33 pm

Alex Noren won the BMW PGA Championship last year, one of his nine career European Tour victories.

He opened his title defense at Wentworth Club in 68-69 and is tied for fourth through two rounds. Unfortunately, he's five back of leader Rory McIlroy. And after playing the first two days alongside McIlroy, Noren, currently ranked 19th in the world, doesn't seem to like his chances of back-to-back wins.

McIlroy opened in 67 and then shot a bogey-free 65 in second round, which included pars on the pair of par-5 finishing holes. Noren walked away left in awe.

"That's the best round I've ever seen," Noren said. "I'm about to quit golf, I think."

Check out the full interview below: