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The big picture

Hawaii is a long haul for a potential 36-hole week ' just ask Chad Campbell ' which makes this weeks Sony Open particularly stressful for those trying to make it to the weekend. Week 2 of Cut Line will leave the birdies and bogeys to those enduring an Aloha gale at the seasons first full-field event. Instead, the Cut staff is taking the long-view on a certain return, a premature return flight and a possible Ryder Cup return for Woosie.

  • Charles Howell III:
  • OK, hes only 18 holes into 09 so theres no need to start etching his name into the Comeback Player of the Year Award, but Howells opening 67 at Waialae was a victory by any measure for the games most explosive beanpole.
    Howell posted just two top-10s during the FedEx Cup portion of the schedule and lost ground in almost every major statistical category in 2008, which prompted him to switch swing coaches and put in a healthy amount of OT during the offseason.
    Howell, a long-time David Leadbetter pupil, started working with Sea Island (Ga.) Resorts Todd Anderson late last year and made the 3 hour trek from Orlando, Fla., once a week to hone a swing that had gotten too technical.
    Its the way he was taught and kind of his personality, Anderson said. I want to get him to feel where he needs to put the club.
    If all that wasnt enough, Howell boasted late last year that he was, One fifty-five. No, not in FedEx Cup points, but on a scale. Thats right. CH-3s ongoing News Years resolution is to gain weight.
  • Irish Open:
  • The championship wont be played until May, but players and fans already enjoyed a walk-off moment when officials announced the event will be played at Baltray, a seaside links on Irelands east coast.
    The Cut Line has never understood why the biggest events ' the 2006 Ryder Cup at the K Club comes to mind ' are played on relatively mundane parkland courses instead of one of the classic links layouts. Given an option, you dont bat it around U.S. Cellular Field if Wrigley Field is on the menu.

  • Buick Invitational:
  • Tournament director Tom Wilson has been feverishly working his cell phone, inundating Tiger Woods agent Mark Steinberg with text messages trying to lure the games top draw back to SoCal.
    When Buick and Woods ended their endorsement deal after nine years, Wilson fired a simple missive to Steinberg: Despite the divorce, we still want him.
    We applaud Wilsons optimistic energy, but the Buick is probably not on Woods radar. The earliest Woods is rumored to be considering is the WGC-Match Play Championship, three weeks after the Buick. Of course, Eldrick does have a flare for dramatics and a return to the same seaside muni where he made history may be just enough to woo a rusty Woods.
  • Chad Campbell:
  • It has been an interesting offseason for the good-natured Texan. He ended his long-running endorsement relationship with Nike Golf, penned a new deal with Adams Golf and made the hop to Hawaii only to discover there was no room at the inn.
    Seems Campbell forgot to commit to the Sony. So when he arrived in Hawaii he had no place to play. We commend Campbells intentions, a top player supporting an event that needs more star power, and offer this friendly reminder ' the Masters is in April.
    The good news, of course, is that Campbell did bank plenty of frequent flyer miles.

  • European Tour Ryder Cup captain selection committee:
  • The 15-member committee met this week in Abu Dhabi and decided . . . well, nothing. Keep up, because this gets confusing.
    Jose Maria Olazabal is widely considered the frontrunner for the 2010 job, but the Spaniard would like to play on the team so he is delaying his decision which, some say, prompted the committees stiff arm.
    Ian Woosnam, the man who led Europe to a nine-point victory in Ireland two years ago, seems to be something of a sentimental pick considering next years matches will be played in Wales, but he is sideways with Thomas Bjorn, the chairman of the selection committee who the Welshman kept off the 2006 team.
    Sandy Lyle seems to be the odd man out for a number of curious reasons, including his age (50), his failure to support the European Seniors Tour and his walking off the course during last years British Open.
    And president-elect Barack Obama thought he had a political minefield waiting for him next week in Washington D.C. It all makes one appreciate the secretive nature of the U.S. selection process for captains. Its like sausage, you just want it on your plate. You dont want to know how its made.
  • Maui Seven:
  • Seven players who participated in the Mercedes-Benz Championship bypassed the 20-minute flight to Oahu for the Sony Open. Give Vijay Singh a pass because he had knee surgery on Wednesday. The rest, however, must have not gotten their copies of that five-minute video from Tour commissioner Tim Finchem urging players to support all tournaments, large and small.
    Players pick their schedules for a variety of reasons ' golf course, purse, history ' and before someone throws an independent contractor at us, its important to respect that. But it just seems the Sony would have been a good place to start the Tours version of a corporate bailout.
    Email your thoughts to Rex Hoggard