Doug Ferguson does a nice job summing up the different views on toughened-up and trade-windy Kapalua.
The debate is the same old deal: some players whine when the wind is up and the greens freakish, but they are not able to explain why their whining is legit. And others embrace it as ideal golf. Sadly, there aren't too many who fall somewhere in between, able to explain why the architecture was designed to play a certain way, and how the new green speeds perhaps weren't meant for the trade-winds.
(And it would be nice to hear from just one player about the noticeably soft approaches contrasting with the firm greens...a chintzy setup element that I don't remember being an issue in previous years, especially since the approaches are so vital to the Plantation Course's design).
But as usual, the guys who might have a legitimate gripe come off sounding like big complainers.
"I think they've blown it," Kenny Perry huffed after a 77 in the third round. "It's a little unfair. Everyone has to play it, but I don't think it's golf, in my opinion. Who wants to shoot 75 or 76 when that's the average score? I tell you what, it's shot my confidence."Perry was so flustered that he said he would consider not returning next year if he was eligible. Mark Calcavecchia thought that was a little severe. After all, they're in Hawaii being treated like royalty. Last place paid $70,000. Every player got a free room at the Ritz-Carlton.
Whew...bet the Mercedes and Kapalua people will be biting their nails all season long, wondering if charismatic Kenny will win again and grace them with his presence. On the other side...
"I think it's great," said Brad Faxon, who opened with an 82, closed with a 74 and tied for 23rd at 17 over. "A lot of people thought this course was too easy. I would think Mercedes would be a competitive tournament, not a 30-under romp. If 2 or 3 under is leading, you can have a handful of guys who can win."
Judging by the number of times my grandmother nodded off because we made her watch the final nine holes, I'm going to say the tough setup put more people to sleep instead of bringing in new fans.
Because as much as they want to wheel out words like "integrity" and "challenge," it's just entertainment folks. David Toms seemed to understand:
"I walked off the second green and told people they need to go watch football," said Toms, who was one shot out of the lead going into the weekend until rounds of 79-75 left him in a tie for 13th. "Obviously, some guys are playing good. But to see pros in the teens over par starting the season? That's not a lot of fun."