A quick dash around the golf world as the game swings into New Year’s form:
The 2012 PGA Tour schedule opens today with the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. Maybe they should call it the Tournament of Some Champions, since Keegan Bradley is the lone 2011 major winner in the field.
Regardless of who’s playing, the TOC is always fun to watch. For one thing, it’s held in Hawaii, so TV times are after dark on the mainland. For another, Kapalua’s Plantation Course – designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw – always serves up great scenery and a few 400-yard drives. Is there a cooler finishing hole on Tour than Kapalua’s 663-yard 18th, where pros sometimes hit rope-hook drivers from impossible distances onto the green?
Speaking of prodigious projectiles, big-hitting J.B. Holmes is set to resume playing later this month at the Farmers Insurance Open, five months after brain surgery. Here’s hoping he’s paired with double heart transplantee Erik Compton. …
It’ll be a while before Tiger Woods plays his first U.S. tournament of the year. Instead, Tiger Version 4.0 will debut in Abu Dhabi at the HSBC Golf Championship, January 26-29. He’s not exactly easing into the season, either, taking on the likes of Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald and Martin Kaymer.
Fresh off his win at the Chevron World Challenge, Tiger’s thinking big. “I am looking to get off to a fast start in Abu Dhabi and keep building from there,” Woods said in an email to the Associated Press. “Now that I am healthy, I feel I can keep building my game and confidence week on week, much like I did at the end of (last) year.”
Good thing Tiger’s swing is more natural than his writing. …
Forget March Madness, here’s a truly attractive Final Four. The pairings to determine Golf Digest’s Hottest Golfer contest are Adam Scott vs. Rickie Fowler on the men’s side, and Paula Creamer vs. Sandra Gal for the women. It’s a lovely lot, to be sure, but we’re still wondering how Creamer got past Aussie uber-babe Anna Rawson in the round of 8. Did Anna have the yips, or just a bad hair day?
A couple of sad goodbyes to report. TV commentator Jim Huber passed away this week, succumbing to leukemia. I’ll miss his insights and his voice, as soothing as the sound of a greenside creek. And San Antonio’s Pecan Valley Golf Club, site of the 1968 PGA Championship and a personal favorite, is closing due to… Well, nothing justifiable, as far as I can tell.