The Season Begins – Kapalua 3rd Round Notes

The Leaderboard

Steve Striker began the day with a 5-shot lead and he was cruising in the third round of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. With a 10-under 63 in the second round, he seemed to have solved all of the mysteries of the Plantation Course at the Kapalua Resort in Maui, Hawaii.

But that was then and this is now, a reality in golf particularly, that the players know all too well. So while Stricker plugged along at even par on the front nine, the pack was in full throat and the chase was on! Webb Simpson, who started in second, shot 2-under; Jonathan Byrd, the defending champion, was 2-under; and Scot, Martin Laird was 4-under.

When you have that kind of action going on behind you while you’re spinning your wheels, it takes a lot of concentration, confidence and patience.

And that’s exactly what he brought to the moment…and the moment…and the moment. When you’re waiting for your ship to finally come in, the wait can seem interminable. And when your mind is on that rather than the task at hand, the task at hand suffers. The reason we know that Stricker didn’t panic is that he was still even par through the 14th hole…and then reeled off four birdies on the final four holes to jack his lead back up to five strokes.

Simpson, Byrd and Laird are all T2 with solid rounds; 4, 6 and 6-under respectively. But only Byrd and Laird gained any ground on Stricker. Starting further back, all they really managed to do was catch Simpson who started in second. Stricker’s margin remained five.

Honorable mention goes to Bryce Molder, T5, who shot 6-under, and Harrison Frazar, 7th, 7-under. Granted, it’s a little easier when you’re not frontrunning like Stricker, but those are the circumstances that allow you to prove to yourself what you’re capable of. Then you just have to be able to do it when the pressure is on. And that’s where the principles of mastery we’ve been discussing come into to play.

Stricker will be paired with Byrd for Monday’s final round and Laird and Simpson will play together. With all that talent up there, it should be well worth watching. The Golf Channel, 4:00 – 8:00 PM (Eastern).

The Hyundai Tee Markers

Have you noticed the tee markers that Hyundai had made? They are replicas of one of the Hyundai sedans and all the doors, the hood and trunk are fully functional. Very unique and a measure of Hyundai’s commitment to the tournament. You would, however, have to use the “shrink ray” in the FedEx commercial to get a set of clubs in the trunk.

Fixing the Tournament

There has been a great deal of consternation in some quarters about the need to “fix” the TOC because of all of the no-show players. When it first began as the Mercedes-Benz, everybody came. It was an honor, a special perk for winning a PGA Tour tournament. But over time, interest drifted due to longer international seasons and year-end special events.

Commissioner Tim Finchem made an appearance on the broadcast Sunday and said that he has learned over the years that you don’t want to make quick changes or fixes until all the facts and consequences are understood.

He said that Hyundai has done a great job with the tournament and that with the increasing importance of the FedExCup race, players like Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy have accepted PGA Tour membership again. This will cause them to play the minimum 15 tournaments and perhaps play deeper into the season. And that could cause them not to play so late into the year on other Tours sapping their energy for the Hyundai.

Everybody wants to be where the action is and hopefully that will again include the TOC.

The Tim Tebow Lesson

I confess that I went over to the Broncos/Steelers game when it became obvious that magical quarterback, Tim Tebow, was going to pull another rabbit out of the hat, much to the consternation of his naysayers. He got it to 20 – 6 at the half. Surely the Steelers would make some halftime corrections. 20 – 13 after 3. That’s when he won me back. “But I have to watch the golf!” “Yeah, but he could actually pull this off again!”

It was like watching one of those crash videos when you just know how it’s going to turn out, but you can’t make yourself turn away. And when the Steelers managed to tie it up as 4th quarter ran down, I was starting to feel squeamish. “I have to watch the golf!” “Yeah, but this could be a fairytale ending!” And then Tebow threw an 80-yard touchdown pass on the first play of overtime and won the game.

I don’t particularly have a horse in this race, for the Broncos or Tebow. What I do have an interest in is pointing out to Tebow’s critics how dangerous it is to pre-judge what another human being is capable of. As I have pointed out in the past, if great things aren’t possible for others, they may not be possible for any of the rest of us either. If we wouldn’t allow for that possibility in others, then perhaps others may not allow for it in us.

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