Mercedes Championship round four: Chopra hasn't got the drop on Tiger Woods
I was almost on my knees by the end praying for someone to win it. The sun might have been setting on the drama at Kapalua, threatening a spill-over into Monday, but back here in England we weren’t far off the other end of the day. You really don’t want playoffs in Hawaii.
What Kapalua proved beyond peradventure is there is one law for Tiger Woods and another for the poor proles that chase after him. If it had been Tiger, at least one of Daniel Chopra’s teetering birdie shots would have disappeared into the hole. In case you’ve forgotten, here’s a reminder.
Actually if Chopra had somehow delayed things a bit more when his playoff eagle putt held up I think it would have dropped. I love the way he describes it: “I was positive, 100 percent, it has to go, especially when the whole green goes that way, the grain goes that way, the sun is that way, the wind is that way … “
Some will say Chopra had more than his fair share of luck Sunday, twice getting a free drop from shots that went awry. The ball that fell off the green onto the sprinkler head at the 15th was especially fortuitous, because there were signs of the match slipping away amid frustration at his inability to shake off Steve Stricker. “I birdied 13, I thought, wow, I’m going to run away with this thing. I look up on the board, and I’m only ahead by one. I’m going, what the hell do you have to do?”
Kapalua’s generous fairways also suited Chopra’s game, but he did fashion a host of superb, and oft-times brave shots, while his putting was top drawer. So into the Masters and Ryder Cup contention in one weekend. Is it a coincidence Chopra’s caddie Mitch Knox used to be on the bag for David Duval during his glory years?
Going down those final holes I thought the comeback kid Stricker was going to nick it with an electric putting display. He looks to have a win in him this season, as does Hunter Mahan, the only other player to match Stricker’s 9 under on Sunday. He’s one of my big hopes for the season.
Stephen Ames must also greatly fancy his chances this year, but the way Mike Weir let this slip through his fingers might have upset his momentum. Jim Furyk again lacked bite when it mattered and Vijay Singh just can’t seem to get on top of his putting.
Biggest disappointments, though, were Rory Sabbatini and K J Choi. Sabbatini just can’t seem to get it right here, which probably explains why he buttoned his lips for a change, and Choi never recovered from disastrous opening rounds.
Still, that was wet, windy, grainy Kapalua. Oh, now I remember, it’s on to wet, windy, grainy Honolulu (well, sort of). Just one thing - not another playoff please.
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