Mercedes Benz Championship round one: And the winner is ... the wind
Ouch! I’d forgotten just how big the time difference is between Hawaii and l’ill ole England. Surely only the bravest or most desperate golf punter stays up all night to follow the great and good around Kapalua?
So by the time I awoke Friday morning the wind had scattered the contestants every which way. It looks as usual as if there’s going to be little let-up on that front at least until Sunday, when it might moderate a bit. It is providing an interesting lesson for those who haven’t come up against it before. The toughest conditions since Muirfield in 2002 according to Stephen Ames.
Bit of a surprise to see him among the leaders given the back problems he has reportedly been suffering. From his comments it seems he is expecting his swing to go at any moment.
K J Choi is no surprise. Not only did he finish second here four years ago but he hit a course record 62 in doing so. If he can keep on top of the wind he is no stranger to wire-to-wire victories. And Vijay Singh is doing all he can to put a quick spring into his new season, although the niggling doubts about his putting haven’t gone away.
But if you look back at past leaderboards it can often look a whole lot different come Sunday. Sergio Garcia came back from 10 behind to win in 2002 and defending champion Stuart Appleby was eight shots back in 2005 and won.
One performance of note came from Rory Sabbatini, who got off to a terrible start with a double-bogey bogey, which rather made a mockery of his two weeks of intensive practice here. But he staged a sterling recovery with five birdies to keep himself well in the chase. I also wish I’d been aware a bit earlier of how unhappy Adam Scott currently is with his game - I might not have been so keen on him.
PS: In recalling that Muirfield blowout Ames rekindled memories of how that howler robbed Tiger Woods of a grand slam in 2002. I don’t think Tiger likes the wind too much, which might be a powerful reason why he doesn’t do Hawaii.
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