The PGA Tour season is two days old, and we will be hard-pressed to find a more entertaining round than that played by Dustin Johnson or a better one than by Robert Garrigus at Kapalua on Friday.
The two mad bombers cut loose on the wide-open fairways of Kapalua and the results were something to behold. Johnson uncorked six drives of at least 345 yards; Garrigus five. Garrigus, who led the Tour in driving distance last year, smashed the two longest drives at 392 and 394 yards, on the downhill 17th and 18th holes.
But it was more than a long-drive show. Much more. Johnson shot a 7-under 66 that included four putts made from 18 feet or more and a streak of five straight birdies that came crashing to earth with a double bogey on the next hole. Garrigus was so rock-solid in shooting a 10-under 63 that not only did he hit all 18 greens but was inside 20 feet for birdie on 16 holes and his longest birdie putt was 32 feet (he holed it).
Garrigus has always been a fringe PGA Tour player, but he began to become a force last summer when he should have won at Memphis but triple bogeyed the 72nd hole to lose a three-stroke lead and then fell to Lee Westwood in a playoff. Then in the last tournament of 2010 he won at Disney a few days after meeting teacher Jim Ahern, who convinced him to work more on his wedge game.
During the offseason, Garrigus hit three bags of balls from between 50 and 100 yards every day from Thanksgiving until leaving for Kapalua. On Friday, he holed out a wedge for an eagle from 66 yards and set up birdies with wedges to 1, 2, and 4 feet. A player who can drive the ball 350 yards and hit wedges like that? It’s a scary combination.
Garrigus made four straight birdies on the front nine where his longest putt was 4 feet (only one of his birdies all day came on a putt longer than 7 feet). Then he finished his round on an eagle-birdie-birdie run. He hit the greens in two less than regulation since he didn’t miss a green and hit two par 5s in two. He reached the downhill, 663-yard 18th hole with a drive and a 5-iron.
Garrigus leads the tournament after rounds of 69-63, while Johnson is only tied for eighth after 71-66. But the man who threatened to win the U.S. Open and PGA Championship last year showed why he’s such an entertaining player to watch. Johnson opened by making birdie putts of 50 and 19 feet on the first two holes, then made an 18-footer on the ninth hole and an 18-footer from the fringe on the 11th. Tap-in birdies on the 12th and 13th gave him five in a row and put him at 8-under for the round.
Then his Achilles heel of an occasionally off-the-charts tee shot cost him dearly on the 305-yard 14th, where he tried to drive the green. While the fairways at Kapalua are wide, if you go too far offline you’re in lost-ball country in thick bushes. That’s what Johnson found to the right of the 14th green, resulting in a stroke-and-distance penalty and double bogey. He got one back with a two-putt birdie on the 15th, but missed birdie putts of 7, 13, and 9 feet on the last three holes. Just imagine how good Johnson could be if he can harness his misses a little better.
Here’s a rundown of two rounds worth remembering, even if they came on a Friday.
1st hole, par 4: tee shot 362 yards, 150-yard approach to 16 feet, 2 putts
2nd hole, par 3: tee shot to 10 feet, 2 putts
3rd hole, par 4: tee shot 260 yards, 114-yard approach to 1 foot, 1 putt
4th hole, par 4: tee shot 258 yards, 111-yard approach to 4 feet, 1 putt
5th hole, par 5: tee shot 289 yards, 209-yard approach to 24 feet, 2 putts
6th hole, par 4: tee shot 370 yards in the rough, 25-yard approach to 2 feet, 1 putt
7th hole, par 4: tee shot 348 yards, 167-yard approach to 17 feet, 2 putts
8th hole, par 3: tee shot to 19 feet, 2 putts
9th hole, par 5: tee shot 299 yards in the rough, 219-yard shot to fairway, 24-yard approach to 9 feet, 2 putts
10th hole, par 4: tee shot 302 yards in the rough, 78-yard approach to 2 feet, 1 putt
11th hole, par 3: tee shot to 28 feet, 2 putts
12th hole, par 4: tee shot to 327 yards in the rough, 101-yard approach to 32 feet, 1 putt
13th hole, par 4: tee shot 273 yards in the rough, 113-yard approach to 15 feet, 2 putts
14th hole, par 4: tee shot 293 yards in the rough, 16-yard approach to 14 feet, 2 putts
15th hole, par 5: tee shot 297 yards, 237-yard shot to fairway, 35-yard approach to 14 feet, 2 putts
16th hole, par 4: tee shot 300 yards, 66-yard approach in the hole
17th hole, par 4: tee shot 392 yards, 177-yard approach to 7 feet, 1 putt
18th hole, par 5: tee shot 394 yards, 261-yard approach to 54 feet, 2 putts
1st hole, par 4: tee shot 378 yards in the rough, 135-yard approach to 50 feet, 1 putt
2nd hole, par 3: tee shot to 19 feet, 1 putt
3rd hole, par 4: tee shot 286 yards, 89-yard approach to 12 feet, 2 putts
4th hole, par 4: tee shot 252 yards in the rough, 122-yard shot to the fringe, 8-yard shot to 4 feet, 1 putt
5th hole, par 5: tee shot 296 yards, 188-yard approach to 26 feet, 2 putts
6th hole, par 4: tee shot 373 yards in the rough, 23-yard approach to 33 feet, 2 putts
7th hole, par 4: tee shot 367 yards, 152-yard approach to 9 feet, 2 putts
8th hole, par 3: tee shot to 28 feet, 2 putts
9th hole, par 5: tee shot 300 yards in the rough, 204-yard approach to fringe, 29-yard shot to 18 feet, 1 putt
10th hole, par 4: tee shot 243 yards, 109-yard approach to 6 feet, 1 putt
11th hole, par 3: tee shot to fringe, 6-yard shot in the hole
12th hole, par 4: tee shot 347 yards, 77-yard approach to 2 feet, 1 putt
13th hole, par 4: tee shot 291 yards, 99-yard approach to 3 feet, 1 putt
14th hole, par 4: tee shot 282 yards in the native area, lost ball; penalty; re-tee and 268 yards in the rough, 26-yard approach to 7 feet, 2 putts
15th hole, par 5: tee shot 336 yards, 183-yard approach to 37 feet, 2 putts
16th hole, par 4: tee shot 291 yards, 81-yard approach to 7 feet, 2 putts
17th hole, par 4: tee shot 356 yards, 202-yard approach to 13 feet, 2 putts
18th hole, par 5: tee shot 373 yards, 288-yard shot to fairway, 39-yard shot to 9 feet, 2 putts