Jan
8
2014
2014 Sony Open Wednesday tidbits: Welcome back to school!
By Stephanie Wei under PGA Tour
photo 1

Cramming for the first exam of the year

Every year the Sony Open is like the first day of school, but this time around it’s a bit different with the new wraparound season in place, so instead, it’s like returning from a long winter break. Walk out to the putting green and you’ll find yourself surrounded by a chorus of “Happy New Years!”

For those who didn’t cover and/or play in the first six tournaments of the 2013-14 season — like yours truly — then it still feels like the Hyundai Tournament of Champions kicked things off, but alas, we’re already *seven* events deep and this is the eighth. Cray, cray! 

Some bytes I picked up today:

*Stevie Williams has the week off because he’s racing in the New Zealand Super Saloon Championship, so for the first time since the Colonial Invitational in May 2011, Adam Scott will have a fresh face on the bag.

Scott, an avid surfer who can hang in his own right, asked pro surfer Benji Weatherly to caddie for him this week at the Sony Open. Weatherly knows Scott through fellow pro surfer, the famed Kelly Slater.

“I’ve been on four surf trips with him around the world,” said Weatherly, who grew up on the North Shore of Hawaii and now lives in Encinitas, California. “I’m always here around this time and I saw him in New York a few months ago and he asked if I wanted to caddie and I said, yeah, why not. It’s really fun because I love golf, but I’ve never been this close to a tournament.”

Weatherly described Scott as a “plus-12″ in surfing when asked, but when we asked Scott if he could hang with the pros, the golfer said, “No, they drown me every time.”

Scott actually surfed with Weatherly and Slater on Tuesday at the Pipeline in the North Shore.

“He’s good,” said Weatherly. “He’s not scared. The waves were eight feet and pretty big. We went out body surfing. It’s pretty neat to get him out there. Kelly Slater was out there, cut some waves for (Adam).”

As for golf, Weatherly is excited to get roaring for the real deal.

“The coolest part is I have the best horse in the race,” he said. “He just hit the ball so good and didn’t make any putts, so that’s a good sign for tomorrow because he’s going to make all the putts. No matter what, I know we’re going to be in it in the end and that’s going to be so exciting…

“Golf is the same as surfing — it’s just you and you can’t blame anyone else. It’s you against the elements. I’m going to be like his life coach and try to give him confidence. He’s just so good.”

How will he fare caddying for Scott at Waialae Country Club?

“He can carry the bag, that’s all I need him to do,” said Scott. “I’ve been here many times, I know it plenty well enough.”

Hideki Matsuyama

(Photo by JJ Tanabe)

*Hideki Matsuyama withdrew from the field due to a wrist injury. Matsuyama, who was playing for the first time since winning the Casio Open in Japan, participated in the pro-am (where he shot five-under) before pulling out of the tournament because of soreness to his wrist.

He received a sponsor’s exemption to this event last year, but this was going to be his first time as a full-fledged PGA Tour member. This would have been his third start to the 2013-14 season. A thumb injury forced him to pull out from the HSBC Champions in China this past November.

IMG_0343

(Photo by JJ Tanabe)

“I haven’t been able to practice much, but obviously when the tournament starts I hope to play well,” said Matsuyama, who is ranked no. 23 in the world, during his press conference before Wednesday’s pro-am.

Matsuyama was replaced in the field by Robert Streb.

Photo by JJ Tanabe

Meanwhile, several other things spotted…

photo 2

Busy prepping for the first day back to school

photo 2 (1)

View outside the media center

photo 3

Vijay’s new sponsor

photo 4

Close-up of Vijay’s clubs

 

Another new sponsor sighting

Another new sponsor sighting

 

photo 5

Derek Ernst getting ready for a drill