Sun shines on Kapalua as 2nd round concludes.

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It was a sunny, balmy late afternoon outside of the main cart staging area of the Kapalua Plantation course’s clubhouse, and Jim Furyk’s dad, Mike, was talking story with course head golf professional Scott Carroll, and Jim’s caddie, Fluff. I was waving my card at him insistently and finally butted in enough to get his cell number for a later interview. (I’m lucky he didn’t deck me, but he was in good spirits.)

Event chair, host, star announcer and overall ruler of the minions, Mark Rolfing, was telling Kapalua’s director of golf Mike Jones, and his lovely wife, Lahainaluna golf coach hopeful Laura, about how he had missed Camilo Villegas’ rules violation on Thursday. You know, the one that got him DQ’ed (he flicked away some loose grass that was in the line that his ball was rolling toward after his second chip shot was trickling back toward him…).

I commended him on how well things were going and basically grovelled at his feet, and he was polite as always. “I got an email from Debi but it wouldn’t open on my iPhone,” I managed to blurt out awkwardly. “Well, I got her second one about my needing to put some make-up on my nose because of the lights,” he said jokingly. “That one worked!”

Between two-time defending champion David Ogilvy’s freak 12 stitch finger contusion, and Camilo’s ruling, it was an odd way to lose two players in this very elite and intimate field of just 32.

It was roasting as the sun began to sink toward the horizon. Mark was in a pair of dress slacks, with a dress shit, and wasn’t feeling the heat one bit. As I had sweat pouring out all over the place, he slipped away, probably not wanting to see anymore, and who could blame him. Right now, he is at the top of his game, as are—of course—the leaders.

Players we frankly never hear much about were to be the overnight leaders, although the man at the very top, Robert Garrigus, is the Tour’s longest hitter for the past two years running, so he’s not exactly a no-name. The man one shot back is a Swede named Carl Pettersson whose nearly $2 million in earnings last year was an almost undistinguishable 39th, but two important stats are worth noting: he is 4th in total putts per round, 4th in putting average, and 2nd in sand saves. In other words, he’s got a good short game, and that’s been where the scoring seems to have been had this week.

Everyone talks about how length is the big factor at Kapalua, especially when the wind is down, as it has been all week, but the fact of the matter is the ones at the top are not all long hitters. Pettersson is ranked 137th on tour for driving distance. He hits it about 282 yards on average. That’s not very far for the tour. But he can save par, or get near the par 5s in two and save birdies. As for the overnight leader, Garrigus, he has been working on his inside 100 yards game all season, and attributes his recent success to that more than anything else: “My wedge game is exactly where I need it to be,” he said.

Jonathan Byrd, who is in sole possession of third, is only hitting the ball, on average, just 276.5 yards off the tees, but he is tied for first in sand saves this week, and tied for third in putting, with an average of only 29 putts per round.

The course’s fairways look more like velvety green carpets than ever. Mike Jones gave me a much-needed lift up to the 18th tee, and then I walked down the final fairway with Byrd and Pettersson as they wrapped up their rounds. Along the way, I bumped into my old friend, photographer Andrew Jacoby (a.k.a. ‘AJ’), as he was trying to capture the final hole. He was carrying three cameras, including a big 400mm 2.8 Nikon lens.

Makena’s Eliot Gouveia and beautiful wife were strolling down the fairway with us, and the last pairing made their way toward the green. Neither would hit the 663-yard par 5 in two, but both would birdie it—a testament to my point about show game skills being key here.

As I dragged my sorry ass up the hill from the 18th green, after shooting a picture of Pettersson converting his birdie putt, I ran into none other than Maui XXX player Dave Edmonson, and his father-in-law. Both had volunteered and walked with players, and done what I should have done, which is to have burned some calories!

“We’re having breakfast together tomorrow,” Dave’s father-in-law (sorry, but his name escapes me) said. He was referring to a pre-golf gathering at Beach Bums between the three of us, and the local golf club’s stand-in commissioner, Bob Johnson. (Little did they know I would not be attending, as I was up into the wee hours writing this!)

I stopped by the Maui Eldorado to see Pam Higginbotham, the owner of Eldorado Market Activities, because she has been sending me golfers to take advantage of our deal at Kaanapali in droves, and I wanted to give her a check for her commission. But instead, it was her lovely Brazilian helper, Valerie, who greeted me.

“Don’t they have a big party at the end of the tournament, to celebrate?” the attractive brunette asked me. “No,” the have a brief ceremony to give the winner his trophy and check, they make a few short speeches to congratulate the runners-up, the sponsors, and other dignitaries, and then everybody scatters,” I explained.

“How weird,” she said. “Why don’t they have a party? That’s the best time, at the end of the event?” she added. “I know. For us, this is a big deal, but for most of them, it is a 52-week-a-year job. Half of them are mentally on a plane before even finished playing,” I said.

“I don’t understand that game,” she exclaimed with a wrinkled brow. “Me neither,” I said.

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