January 6 2013
Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson lean into the wind to keep their balance Sunday at Kapalua.
By Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM
KAPALUA, Hawaii -- Instead of chasing birdies, players spent a good deal of time chasing their caps on Sunday. It was also impossible to keep a cap on during the 40-mph gusts. Rickie Fowler showed remarkable agility tracking down Jason Dufner's hat. Fowler looked like a shortstop taking the correct line to intercept the wondering cap.
Green Speed: In an attempt to slow down the greens, the putting surfaces were cut late on Saturday as opposed to early Sunday morning. The strategy worked as the greens were putting about a foot slower than they had been on Friday. Unfortunately, even with the longer grass on the greens, golf balls were still affected by the high winds and did not always hold their original positions.
Bunkers: Spectators had to be very careful while walking past bunkers near the gallery ropes. A gust of wind would loft a sheet of sand out of the bunker and onto the spectators. The sand-blasted golf fans shrieked in surprise as the tiny particles of dirt dug into any exposed areas of skin.
Delayed start: Play was further delayed on the 10th tee when Matt Kuchar could not get his ball to stay on the tee. The wind kept knocking the ball off the wooden peg. He finally timed his swing to hit the ball in between wind gusts. Webb Simpson's ball did not blow off the tee but continually oscillated while remaining on the peg. He then asked a rules official if he could swing while the ball wobbled or if that would be a penalty for striking a moving ball. The answer: Play away, please.
Attitude: Composure has always been necessary in golf but a good attitude is crucial during difficult conditions. When a player's game goes sideways a bad attitude frequently follows out of frustration. Jonas Blixt tried to turn a negative into positive. He was 134th in greens in regulation during 2012 but second in strokes gained-putting. Blixt says severe wind plays into his game because everyone is missing greens in the difficult conditions and he has a great short game. I don’t know if that theory is correct but I do know it's a great attitude.
Practice: Players were quick to head to the driving range when play was canceled on Saturday; by Sunday few were anxious to hit more balls. Brandt Snedeker said it did him little good to practice in such windy conditions. Some players talked about going to another part of the island where winds were not as severe to get in some practice.
Forecast: Meteorologists say conditions will slightly improve over the next 48 hours. Winds are expected to be in the 25-mph range with gusts in the 30s. There were peak gusts that reached 48 mph on Sunday. The extended forecast calls for continued wind and increased chances of rain as the PGA TOUR eventually ventures to the Sony Open on Oahu.
Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here.