Wind shakes up an already jittery TOC at Kapalua

Home / Maui Golf Review Magazine / Wind shakes up an already jittery TOC at Kapalua

Ever since the media officials from the PGA Tour denied the Maui Golf Review the ability to shoot the event from inside the ropes two years ago, I have instead spent the week with family in New York city, following it from afar.

The trip has become, for me, an interesting barometer of how far our isle tax and marketing dollars really go—given all the resources that are lavished upon the Tour’s season-opening event, held New Year’s week at Kapalua, on Maui.

I figure if I’m intentionally looking for it, and all of these resources are being put to bear… then Maui, Kapalua, Hyundai, The Ritz, everyone should be getting tons of exposure. But today, I noticed the event didn’t appear on the first page of my Yahoo news page. It always has in the past. ‘Wassup wit dat,’ I wondered?

I dug a little and found a few articles to get things rolling on the Yahoo Sports page itself. One was a Reuters story entitled: Golf-Players in paradise for PGA Tour season opener. It was one of the few I have seen where the people asking the questions finally got the players to talk up Maui, as opposed to merely asking them about their games. Don’t get me wrong! Of course it’s important to ask about how the putter, or the driver is working, but the idea of the Tour is to showcase both great players and great venues. So, I want to hear about both, and this time, someone in the media room got it right!

Take, for example, how they got Masters champion Bubba Watson to open up:

“Who would not want to come to Maui and play golf?” the American left-hander smiled.

Adding: “A great time for the family, hanging out with friends and seeing the scenery. Playing the golf course is a challenge,” Watson said of the par-73, 7,411-yard Plantation layout, “but it’s a fun time to start off the year here in Maui.”

Now that was pretty good.

“It’s always great to be here,” Hunter Mahan, a two-time winner on the 2012 PGA Tour, told reporters at the Maui resort.

“I don’t particularly like the water that much. I get seasick pretty easily, so I won’t be out in the water too much.”

In spite of being a landlubber, Mahan notes: “There’s a hundred different things you can do here. At the same time, this is great weather and I’m trying to work on my game a little bit and make sure I get enough time for that.”

Ironically, hindsight is 20/20, and while we all appreciate Hunter’s kind remarks, he was less prophetic than course GM and director of golf Mike Jones, who had predicted the charged up Konas that have wobbled this storied event.

“We went up to holes 10 and 13 and the ball wouldn’t even stay on,” the Chicago area native told me of the greens on the Plantation Course today. “Most of of the players have just gone home,” he said, “and we’ll play 36 tomorrow, and 18 on Monday,” he said. We joked about how strong the winds can be.

While it is a bit of a tradition to appraise the quality of the event’s field—as players like Tiger Woods (who didn’t qualify), Phil Mickelson, and others opt to pass on the event and the long trip to Kapalua—most remember the fantastic finishes and amazing show of skills that awe the spectators at Kapalua year-after-year.

Yet, the debate lingers, and Bob Harig’s article, Why the no-shows for PGA Tour opener?, on ESPN’s website shows there is no denying we could use a little more love from the game’s leaders:

“It is a new year but an old story,” Harig opens. “With all due respect to the likes of Webb Simpson, Bubba Watson, Keegan Bradley and Steve Stricker, who begin the 2012 PGA Tour season this week on Maui, the tournament again faces questions about why so many players are skipping it.” He goes on: “Although it might be tough to fathom the idea of passing on a free week in Hawaii — Derek Lamely got $55,000 a year ago for finishing last — the Hyundai Tournament of Champions has been dealing with this issue for years.”

At this point, we just want to see some great golf, and while there’s no way to get in all 72-holes at this point—because all of the TV gear needs to go to Oahu for the SONY Open on Thursday—54 is doable.

In his story, PGA Tour’s season opener delayed again, AP golf writer Doug Furguson noted that the hopefully abbreviated TOC is a first since a very dramatic finish was held some time ago on the mainland: “It will be the first time the Tournament of Champions is reduced to 54 holes since 1997, when Tiger Woods hit a 7-iron to a foot to beat Tom Lehman in a playoff when a par 3 at La Costa was the only hole that could be used because of so much rain.”

As Andy Pazder, chief of operations for the tour, points out: ”It’s a 16-hour barge trip, in good weather,” to get the gear to Oahu, so no way for a Tuesday finale.

Furguson notes the forecast for tomorrow and Monday:

“The forecast is slightly better for Sunday and Monday, with strong wind in the morning gradually abating through the day. Even so, the Plantation Course is a long walk with severe changes in elevation, which figures to be brutal on the caddies. White said they were considering offering more shuttle rides on portions of the course to help.”

Related Posts

Leave a Comment