One other match in Hawaii, a recent begin for many gamers
HONOLULU – For the 31 gamers on the Sony Open who took the 30-minute flight over from Maui, the choice to play was simple. They’re already in Hawaii, assured a tropical local weather and the course at sea degree is a simple stroll.
Collin Morikawa would not realize it some other method.
Within the two years since he left Cal and turned professional, he has received every year on the PGA Tour and been eligible for the Match of Champions to start out the brand new 12 months. Plus, his household has historical past in Hawaii.
Would the PGA champion fly out to the center of the Pacific Ocean for only one week?
”It is a terrific hypothetical,” Morikawa stated with a smile. ”However Hawaii is particular to me. I’d love to return out right here beginning the 12 months. It has clearly the proper of vibes. It will get you going to start out the 12 months. And I like it out right here.”
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His 12 months did not begin too badly, aside from one spherical. With consecutive rounds of 65, he went into the ultimate spherical at Kapalua one shot out of the lead and shot a 73.
For the opposite 113 gamers at Waialae, the lengthy journey was price their whereas. That features Charles Howell III, who’s making his 20th consecutive begin on the Sony Open and has by no means left the islands with out cash within the financial institution. Together with by no means lacking the minimize, Howell has seven finishes within the prime 5, however nonetheless no victory.
”This match has clearly been actually good to me,” Howell stated. ”It is an occasion that, Lord prepared, I will by no means miss so long as I can play. There’s been a pair that I’ve type of tousled there on the finish or may have performed a bit higher to perhaps have received, nevertheless it’s been such a terrific occasion to me.”
In some respects, that surprises him. For many who did not qualify to start out the 12 months at Kapalua, this their first competitors in almost two months. Even coming off a 12 months that stretched into December due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the final match many performed was simply over a month in the past.
”I am extra impressed that I’ve had as many top-10 finishes as I’ve had, just because it’s the first occasion again after a break,” Howell stated. ”And you do not at all times know the way your recreation is.”
Anticipate TOC gamers to simply regulate for Sony Open
Cameron Smith received final 12 months, ending a streak of six consecutive Sony Open winners who began at Kapalua. The benefit would appear to be with those that have already got one match on the ledger this 12 months, though the numbers towards a 144-man area are towards them. There have been solely 42 gamers at Kapalua final week.
For the Sony Open, the sector is a drop from earlier 12 months.
The Match of Champions had its strongest area final week because the world rating started in 1986 with eight of the highest 10 gamers. Of these eight, solely two came to visit to Waialae – Morikawa and Webb Simpson.
Dustin Johnson has a busy stretch in February that features back-to-back weeks in Saudi Arabia and Pebble Seashore. Jon Rahm is taking part in nearly each week the remainder of the best way on the West Coast Swing. Justin Thomas is headed to Abu Dhabi subsequent week, an extended journey even with out beginning in Hawaii.
This can be a completely different 12 months with the pandemic, with no followers and never a terrific presence from match sponsor Sony. Criticism of absolutely anything in golf is tough to search out when the PGA Tour has managed to play each week – besides for 3 weeks in late December – with out interruption because it resumed in June.
Irrespective of who’s taking part in, successful would not come simply today.
Harris English lastly broke by way of final week at Kapalua with a birdie on the 18th gap to pressure a playoff and one other birdie on the 18th to beat Joaquin Niemann. It was his first victory in simply over seven years and English has firm. Throw out the majors, and 5 of the 11 winners had gone not less than six years and not using a trophy.
English was No. 29 on this planet when he received, a testomony to his robust play. The opposite 4 – Stewart Cink, Martin Laird, Brian Homosexual and Robert Streb – had been all exterior the highest 300.
It could possibly occur any week, and the following shot is in paradise. Morikawa believes scoring is so good that gamers can’t afford to let off the gasoline. That was true final week on Maui, he expects the identical on Oahu.
For tournaments in the identical state, the Plantation Course at Kapalua and Waialae alongside the shores simply down the best way from Waikiki Seashore couldn’t be any completely different. Morikawa would not have a favourite besides in a single side.
”I get pleasure from strolling Sony, I will let you know that,” he stated.