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January 4 2013

10:04 PM

Friday observations from Kapalua

Wet, windy conditions made for a tough day at Kapalua. (Petersen/Getty Images)

By: Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent

KAPALUA, Hawaii -- It was funny to watch caddies prepare for the rainy day. They would disappear into the bag room and emerge with their player’s clubs, carrying two towels. Those towels would not even last through a 20-minute putting session. The caddies returned for more towels before going to the range and then got another two towels before heading to the tee. There was no way to keep everything dry in the rain squalls and 40 mph wind gusts. Caddies stuffed as many towels as possible into their bags making for a heavy load as moisture was absorbed.

7-for-7: Byron Nelson once commented, you would be surprised how little the wind would affect a golf ball that was struck squarely. Webb Simpson gave a demonstration on Friday. The U.S. Open champion hit his first seven greens in high wind and rain. Given the conditions, that was remarkable. Simpson converted three birdie putts when the wind was blowing hard enough to veer the ball off line. Nelson would have been proud.

Big drive: Rickie Fowler averaged 293 yards per drive in 2012. On the third hole on Friday, his drive traveled 218 yards leaving him a 147 yard five iron into the green. The 365 yard hole goes right uphill and played directly into the teeth of the wind. When asked about the 218-yard drive, Fowler told me, “I crushed it. Absolutely pured it on a great trajectory.”

Forecast: The weather on Saturday is predicted to be much like Friday with the exception of stiffer winds. There is an 80 percent chance of rain with winds forecast at 26 mph. It will be interesting to see if greens are left uncut from Friday. Slower putting surfaces would give the ball a better chance of holding the greens in the extreme conditions.
Endurance: The Plantation Course is the hilliest track on the PGA TOUR. It is a difficult walk even in the best of conditions. If weather permits, players and caddies will be asked to walk 36 holes on Saturday. That will be a quick fitness check for the first day of the 2013 schedule.

Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here.

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