The feature attraction of the second round of the Sony Open wasn’t necessarily leader Brian Stuard or even Marc Leishman or Hideo Tanihara — rather, world-class surfer Kelly Slater, who was in the gallery to watch his pals Adam Scott and Benji Weatherly, a fellow pro surfer who is moonlighting as Scott’s caddie this week.
Slater had trouble finding a ride to Waialae Country Club, but he made it to watch the last three holes. When he arrived, he caught Scott and Weatherly’s attention and made the “Hang 10″ gesture with his hand.
Now would Slater have caddied for Scott?
“Oh, absolutely,” he said. “Benji and Adam spend a lot more time together than I do. I think I sort of introduced them. I think it just came up that Steve (Williams) wasn’t going to be caddying this week and Benji was like, ‘Oh, I’ll be in Hawaii, I’ll caddie for you!’”
Slater also added some insight as to how the pair were getting along with this week’s arrangement.
“Because of the lack of experience, Benji probably isn’t going to jump in too much and tell Adam something that Adam knows a whole lot more about,” he said. “But Adam texted me last night and said he thinks ‘it’s good because I have to trust my own instincts, I get back into my own game, it’s a different mindset.’ He said for him it kind of helps him in that way.”
Slater said he would have been more hands-on of a caddie than Weatherly’s laid-back approach.
“Just living in Hawaii, I know the winds a bit and the grain, so I’d probably be somewhat active in helping him read the greens — more the grain than the greens,” he said, gesturing at the 16th green and the ocean horizon. “If I can see an ocean, then that’s level, so I can always read a green off the ocean — it’s the best level in the world.”
Slater almost sounded like he wanted to trade places with Weatherly this week.
“I think he was watching Benji — just to witness Benji actually carrying a golf bag around the PGA Tour,” said Scott after he shot a four-under 66, seven-under total. “He’s probably secretly jealous.”
“I’m sure, but there were probably big waves for him to chase the next couple of days,” said Scott.
Slater couldn’t tell us what kind of surfer Scott is, but he said he probably could next week since they’re heading over to the Big Island next week to catch some waves and play golf. Now that sounds like a fantastic trip.
*Meanwhile, Golf Channel interviewed Scott and Weatherly on TV together and let’s take a look at the entire transcript because it’s a classic.
Q. What is it like having this guy on the bag with you after having a professional caddie on your side for so many years?
ADAM SCOTT: Yeah, it’s a different vibe out there for sure, but it’s been a lot of fun. Benji has been unbelievable. He’s done so good, and he’s really getting a knack for it. He talked me down on 18 today, he’s like, it’s not driver, it’s 3wood. So he put me in the fairway. He’s really getting the hang of it.
Q. I saw you clapping a few times when other guys were making putts. What’s it like out there for you?
BENJI WEATHERLY: It’s the most fun you could ever have. I have no nerves because for one, he’s so good, it’s embarrassing. Like every single shot is what you see on SportsCenter, especially that last one. It’s unbelievable.
Q. We talked to Kelly Slater earlier. Benji Weatherly would be a professional surfer and a very good one at that. Rumor has it you’re a 7 golfer; is that true?
BENJI WEATHERLY: Kelly doesn’t think so because I don’t keep the cards after every round, but I just like to think so.
Q. Is it nerve wracking at all to have a guy on your bag who literally has never caddied at any level whatsoever?
ADAM SCOTT: No, not at all. He was unreal earlier this week. He really trained up, and he’s taking it serious. We’re having a lot of fun, but he’s taking it serious and he knows it’s serious to me, and it’s a fun opportunity I think for both of us.
Not SportsCenter, Benji! It’s Golf Channel!
*James Hahn knocked in the second albatross in professional golf on Friday after Joost Luiten had one in South Africa earlier in the day. Check out Hahn’s quote on his caddie’s fail to complete the chest-bump celebration.
*Brian Stuard rolled in a short eagle putt at the par-5 9th to post a second consecutive 65, his fourth straight score of 65 at Waialae dating back to Saturday last year. Stuard has now shot seven consecutive rounds in the 60s on this course going back to a 66 on Sunday at the 2010 Sony Open in Hawaii, his career debut on the PGA Tour.
Bad news for Stuard is that it’s only Friday and he’ll need to continue the streak for two more rounds.
Stuard’s key to success at Waialae has been his comfort on the greens.
“I’ve been trying to figure it out,” said Stuard when asked what it was about the course he enjoyed. “I think it’s something to do with the greens. I feel comfortable on the greens. I feel like I read them pretty well and feel like I’m able to make some putts.”
*Marc Leishman matched the low round of the day, a six-under 64, to surge up the leaderboard and move into a share of second place. Prior to this week, Leishman’s last start on the PGA Tour came in October at the CIMB Classic, where he finished T44.
“I like how firm it is,” said Leishman of Waialae Country Club. ”You’ve got to judge how far the ball is going to run. It’s always windy, as well. I grew up in the wind and enjoy playing in the wind. Those things along with the course, as well, it’s not a course that you can really overpower. You have to think your way around. I think if you play well you can score well, and if you’re not playing good, there’s not big numbers out there. I like that about it.”
*Japan’s Hideto Tanihara is making his first start on the PGA Tour since last year’s Sony Open in Hawaii, and finds himself tied for second with Leishman after firing a five-under 65 in the second round.
Tanihara credits his fine play to his success on the greens.
“The putting was great for today and yesterday, and the shot was okay, but putting was it for me,” he said. “My shots were not as good as I thought it would be, but putting really helped me to get to this point. Putting is a key this week.”
Wait, so putting has been important for him? OK, just checking.
*Jordan Spieth missed his first cut since the PGA Championship — though, as he pointed out, he hasn’t played in many events where there *has* been a cut in the last six months.
Spieth was frustrated with his putting and felt like he just couldn’t get a break.
“Legitimately, this week, we got a lot of tough breaks,” said the 20-year-old phenom. “It’s a tough and firm golf course, so it’s going to happen. I’ve found myself on this back nine trying to make a move. A couple of different holes. One, I drive one right down the middle and I’m in a sand divot. Then, another one it lands in the middle of the fairway and it kicked at a 90-degree angle and ended up in a fairway bunker when it should’ve been in the fairway.
“It felt like one of those weeks. Lots of lip outs. I honestly felt like I putted better than last week. Just nothing went in.”
Spieth posted a one-over two-day total, but he thought he was close to shooting much lower.
“To finish one-over and to be close to be 5-6-under is frustrating,” said Spieth, who finished in solo second on Monday at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. “Just nothing went in — I didn’t play that bad, I just didn’t score well.”
Spieth joked that the holes were cut smaller at Waialae Country Club. In the first round, his playing partner Robert Streb hit the pin and the cup with his ball, causing damage to the hole. Tour officials fixed it with a tool and Spieth thought it was a funny moment because they couldn’t get it to fit the first few times.
“I was like, no wonder, these holes are cut too small,” said Spieth, laughing. “They cut the holes small here. They looked a little smaller as the days went on, unfortunately.”
Spieth said he planned on having some fun in Hawaii the next few days before trying to take off for Dallas on Saturday evening. Ah, even wunderkinds miss cuts sometimes!