Ogilvy on Kapalua

I was wondering if they had remedied the odd situation at Kapalua from last year where the greens were bricks and everything else was soft. In his Wednesday sit down with the assembled Hawaiian shirt clad scribblers, Geoff Ogilvy answered that question and talked about the course.

Q. This is your second tour of the golf course. Do you notice any difference from last year to this year, any subtle changes?

GEOFF OGILVY: The greens are softer this year. Last year, they were -- I'm the biggest advocate in the world for firm greens but the trouble with last year, the greens were firm and the fairways were soft. So you land them short and stop, and you land it long, it went over the back, wicked. This year, it's all the same, it just all soft, which is fine. I like it firm, but it's been raining a lot and it's the rainy side of the island and it's never going to be rock hard.
It's much more playable this year in that respect. The greens are fantastic compared to the ones that were here two years ago.

Q. Do you like this place? Do you like the way this is set up?

GEOFF OGILVY: I think this is a fantastic golf course on a very extreme piece of land. It's on the edge of a piece -- it's really close to being a piece of land that you maybe shouldn't have a golf course on. They did such a good job. Everyone hits fairways all day and you hit a lot of shots because the greens are big. I think it's a good golf course; I enjoy it. How could you not enjoy looking at the views? They are awesome. They were smart in the way they did it. It could have been a complete nightmare if it was narrow with long carries, but how they made it, they were smart about it.

Tiger And Mercedes

In yesterday's Target press conference, The Golf Channel's Brian Hewitt asked Tiger Woods:

Q.  Any decisions yet or even leanings towards Mercedes and in early January?  I know you don't have to commit until the week before.

TIGER WOODS:  I haven't really looked forward to that.  I'm just looking forward to actually playing this event and then going skiing and just getting away and actually having some time off and then basically evaluate. 

Uh, that's 18 days away. Haven't really looked forward to that? That's Tigerspeak for "I'm not playing." 

Perry: Might Not Come Back To Kapalua

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." 


You Can Understand...

From the The Advertiser, file this one under: The same kind of spoiled mindset that ruined pro tennis.

If I knew how, I'd set this post to Schubert's Sting Quartet No. 4 (more maudlin the better):

Tiger Woods, ranked world No.1, Phil Mickelson (No.4) and Retief Goosen (No.5) have turned their backs on the $7.39 million tournament starting on Thursday at the Kapalua Plantation resort course on the island of Maui. The star trio have chosen to stay at home with their families rather than fight for the $1.48 million first prize. Only 28 players will tee off in the tournament featuring the winners from the 2005 US Tour.

"You can understand why guys who are married and have families would rather stay at home at this time of the year," Lonard said.

Oh sure, we can understand staying at home this time of year, when the kids head back to school and dad would have to go to dreary old Hawaii to pick up a guaranteed check that, I grant you, probably only covers a 20 hours on NetJets, but still isn't too shabby. 

"It's their decision and I support them though if they want to go, they go and if they don't, they stay at home.

I'm sure there is some deeper meaning in that statement.

[Michael] Campbell said he was also tempted to remain in Sydney with his young family. "I'm not surprised guys like Tiger, Phil and Retief are not competing this week," he said.

"Obviously the sponsors are pretty disappointed but Phil's got a young family, so has Retief. I don't think Tiger has ever missed the Mercedes since first contesting the event in 1998 so you really can't begrudge him from electing not to play."  

What's going to be Phil's excuse when the kids grow up?

Seriously, I know Campbell and Lonard are in a no-win situation here. If they blast the big names for not showing, it only causes headaches they don't need. But the whole family excuse is getting old (I suspect the Commissioner agrees).

Let's face it, they make a lot of money and only care about the majors, so there is no incentive for them to go to Kapalua. Plus, Phil doesn't like Bermuda greens. Tiger is on vacation. Retief lives too far away.

But spending more time with their family as the excuse for skipping Kapalua. Not buying it. 

More Mercedes Spin

Don't count Ken Fidlin as part of the Tiger Woods-skipping-Mercedes apologensia...

Meanwhile, Phil has chimed in on why neither he nor Tiger can make it to dreary old Kapalua.

"I know it's difficult for Tiger, too, considering that he lives in Florida," said Mickelson.

He's right. The G5 might have to stop for refueling. The stress!

"When I've played there, it has kind of messed up my schedule and made it hard to get into the rhythm I want to start the year."

Oh, and here I was thinking he just wanted to spend more time with his family. At Kapalua.

Wait, that was last month.  

Building a schedule around these two? Risky business. 


More On Tiger's Break

Doug Ferguson writes:

Tiger Woods is so serious about wanting a shorter season on the PGA Tour that he is skipping the season-opening Mercedes Championships at Kapalua next month.

Uh...eh, but if he wanted a shorter season wouldn't he skip playing in...oh forget it.

Ferguson goes on break down the likely Mercedes Championship field. It's not pretty.