KAPALUA, Hawaii – Through the years, the huge, undulating greens at Kapalua’s Plantation Course have given first-timers at the PGA Tour’s season-opening event a fair share of fits, and prevented Tournament of Champion rookies from having a great deal of collective success.
Keep an eye on Robert Garrigus this weekend – he might be a slightly different case. For one, the 36-hole leader at the Hyundai isn’t a “true” first-timer here; it’s where he visited on his honeymoon seven years ago. And he’s also so enthused about his revamped wedge game that he has sprinkled in a nice share of kick-ins among the 14 birdies he has made the first two days.
As for his honeymoon, the good news is that his newlywed bride allowed him to bring his clubs and play. On back-to-back days, with his wife Ami riding along, Garrigus shot 63 (10 under) on the Plantation and 60 (12 under) on Kapalua’s nearby Bay Course.
“I was obviously pretty loose on my honeymoon,” he said. “She rode around with me and watched. When I shot the 60, Ami asked, ‘What did you shoot?’ I said, ‘60.’ She said, ‘That’s pretty good, isn’t it?’ ”
He was so enthused about his game when he left Maui that winter that he couldn’t wait for the Nationwide Tour season to begin. It opened in Louisiana in late March that year, and Garrigus built a six-shot lead through three rounds (65-66-68) only to shoot 78 on Sunday and plummet into a tie for fifth.
A learning experience, just as Memphis was last summer when he kicked away a three-shot lead on the 72nd hole and lost in a playoff to Lee Westwood. He joked that Westwood didn’t even send him a Christmas card this season for his Memphis “gift.”
Garrigus would make amends in early November by winning the Children’s Miracle Network Classic at Disney in his final start of the year.
Kidding aside, the 33-year-old who kicked drug and alcohol addictions chooses to see the brighter side of those challenging golf situations.
“It’s all about learning,” he said. “I’ll never forget it (Memphis), but I can learn from it. It’s real easy to dwell on things, but I’ll tell you what: If Memphis didn’t happen, I wouldn’t have won at Disney.”