Hey, golf fans, great news: You can watch the NFL playoff games this weekend without worrying that you’re missing much at Kapalua’s Plantation Course, thanks to Jordan Spieth. The 2015 Masters and U.S. Open champion opened up a four-shot lead at the halfway mark of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions after firing a nine-under 64 to follow up his effort of 64 the day earlier.
It appears Spieth is starting 2016 right where he left off in 2015: Winning.
That headline isn’t exactly breaking news. Everyone knows Steve Stricker is an incredible human being, but now with the recent announcement of his semi-retirement already in effect at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, I’m feeling sentimental. At least he’s easing into it, so we won’t have to worry about extreme withdrawals.
When I think of veterans that I look up to and respect the most, first two names that come to mind are Stricker and K.J. Choi.
Stricker is your genuinely nice and down-to-earth Midwesterner. As a person and a golfer, Stricker never ceases to amaze me. The more you’re around him, the more you like him. He’s one of those guys who remind me the world doesn’t totally suck, and there is, in fact, hope for human kind.
After days wondering when the golf would start–and count officially–the 2013 Hyundai Tournament of Champions ended on a high note under sunny skies with long-hitting Dustin Johnson winning by four shots over the defending champ Steve Stricker, who announced his semi-retirement his pre-tourney press conference last week. Johnson, who has now notched seven victories on the PGA Tour, overpowered The Plantation Course, which, as a beast of a track, holds its own.
DJ and Bubba enjoying the breeze at Kapalua during the first round
Rickie Fowler stepped up to the first tee at The Plantation Course and hit the opening drive to kick off the 2013 season for the third time in four days. Difference on Monday morning? It was actually official. Beforehand, Fowler tweeted, “Scene 1…take 3.”
Fowler, who played with Jason Dufner, got the opening event off to a nice pace, completing the first 18 in less than four hours, which is very impressive on this track. As you may have heard, it’s not exactly the easiest course to to walk. In fact, it’s the most strenuous of the year. But after the week that would never end — or should I say, start — the players were ready to get things going.
Bubba Watson & his caddie Ted Scott have some fun: Teddy assists Bubba by holding the ball in place.
The forecast at Kapalua’s Plantation Course continues to plague the 2013 Hyundai Tournament of Champions with strong winds and gusts up to 50mph. Not much has changed from Friday when the PGA Tour’s season-opener was supposed to kick off. For the third day in a row, play was delayed, suspended, and eventually called at 12:12pm on Sunday.
The new (tentative) plan? To return on Monday morning and play 36 holes and 18 on Tuesday. The goal is to complete 54 holes — otherwise it’ll count as an “unofficial” event, meaning it won’t count as an “official” win and the champion won’t get the chance to defend his title in 2014, but it will reward “official FedExCup points/money/75% OWGR points. In other words, it would cause more harm to the already endangered venue for the event. Which would really suck.
As you know — especially if you follow me on Twitter or Facebook — I haven’t been shy about being in Kapalua to cover the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. With all the boastful updates I’ve posted, I’m sure many of you want to punch me in the face. Don’t blame ya, I would, too.
Thing is, fishing trips, whale watching and mingling over drinks at the lobby bar are part of the event’s culture. At least that’s what I’ve been told, and you know, I’m just trying to fit in and give you a glimpse of the experience.
Me and Kapalua's Gary Planos on the first tee at The Plantation Course
I’m back in NYC after a wonderful and very relaxing vacation in Maui. I’ve actually been home since Tuesday morning, but I’ve been dealing with severe Hawaii-withdrawal disorder. Before I come to terms with the fact that I’m no longer in paradise, I’d just like to extend a huge thank you to Gary Planos (aka, “The Mayor”) for hosting and to everyone at Kapalua for their amazing hospitality.
Ed "Long Duk" Dong almost makes a hole-in-one on No. 8 at The Plantation Course
On Saturday Ed Dong, who cracked a Sixteen Candles “Long Duk Dong” joke within ten minutes of meeting, caught up with my step-dad and I on the sixth hole at The Plantation Course. Naturally, since we asked him if he wanted to join us. After all, that is the polite thing to do (and golfers are so civil, right Jim Nantz?)
Thanks to 72strokes’s Derek Franks for capturing my drive on No. 10 4 (I think? Maybe it was No. 13?) at The Plantation Course on Wednesday. FYI, I was using other playing partner Mike Ferguson’s TaylorMade Burner driver, which, for some reason, I can’t seem to miss — even when I make poor contact, it still goes long and straight (and considering the way I was striking the ball yesterday…wow). It’s really incredible.
Great balance, though! Actually, I’m pretty sure that was the wind almost blowing me over.
Otherwise, I had a pretty terrible ballstriking day on my way to a 79. Oh, I did it! I broke 80 with an asterisk because it sure didn’t feel like a 79. (My clubs almost ended up in the ravine on 17 — no, not really, but it was pure comedy watching us all putt.)