What's so great about the Mercedes Championship?
This weekend marks the Mercedes Championship, official opener for the 2009 PGA Tour season.
But I know what you’re thinking: With Tiger Woods’ knee issues keeping him out of the field, there’s not much point in tuning in just yet.
So I offer you this, five reasons to watch the Mercedes Championship.
1. It’s in Hawaii. I don’t know about you, but from where I sit in my windy, rainy, 30-degree state, Hawaii’s looking pretty good to me. That Barack Obama, who knew he could solve the global warming crisis before even taking office? Remarkable. But frankly, I wouldn’t object to my part of the globe being a tad warmer.
2. It’s Kapalua Plantation. If you’ve played it?and you probably have?you know what I’m talking about. Watching the pros turn a crazy-hard course in challenging conditions into a birdiefest is a joy to behold. I reviewed Kapalua Plantation shortly after it reopened from its greens-remodel a couple of years ago, and went home with my tail between my legs?and that was playing from the front tees. While some purists may enjoy the heartbreak of US Open conditions (nothing under par, please), the rest of us actually like seeing eagles beat birdies, thank you.
The 18th hole alone makes the tournament worth a look. It’s a 663-yard dogleg par 5, the PGA Tour’s longest hole, and the pros generally expect to make it on in two. As Kapalua is a resort course, you just might get the satisfaction of seeing a pro screw up a hole you birdied last year.
3. It’s the season opener. This is where we see who’s been working during the offseason and who hasn’t. With four of the PGA Tour’s top-ranked players (Tiger, Sergio, Mickelson, and Padraig Harrington) out of the mix for their various reasons, that just leaves more top for the cream to rise to. Will the winner be a stalwart favorite, say Ernie Els, who although he hasn’t played at the MC since 2005, has finished third or better in four of his five starts?
Another possibility, if you’re into that kind of thing, is Hall of Famer Vijay Singh, 2007’s winner and looking to continue the momentum from December’s Chevron World Challenge victory. Or will 2009 prove to be the year of the young guns, as a new crop of up and comers make their marks, such as Anthony Kim, Zach Johnson, or Camilo Villegas?
4. The field is champions-only, please, the rest of you losers are benched until next week. The Mercedes Championship invites only the previous year’s champions?and this year, only 33 of them could make it, including seven of the top 15 players in golf. So Tiger et al’s absence aside, you’re seeing the best of the best, my friends.
5. This might be your last chance. Nothing’s definite yet, but rumor has it the MC as we know it is on something of shaky ground. If it returns to Kapalua next year, which it might not, look for a new format?major-winners from the past 5 years, perhaps. The 54-year old tournament has been played at Kapalua for the last 11 years; it’d be a shame to miss the last one.
Here’s where to watch:
Thu, 1/8: Golf Channel 6p - 10:30p ET
Fri, 1/9: Golf Channel 6p - 10:30p ET
Sat, 1/10: Golf Channel 6p - 10:30p ET
Sun, 1/11: Golf Channel 6p - 10p ET
(By the way, if you’re thinking about going to Hawaii to play golf, check out these deals.)
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I've been asleep at the wheel about Vijay Singh's knee problem. He's having it done next week and may be out of commission for a little while.
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