KAPALUA, Hawaii – Maybe the Tway family just has bad luck at Kapalua’s Plantation Course.
Kevin Tway is in the field at the Tournament of Champions for the first time this year, but he was here 15 years ago for his dad Bob Tway’s first and only appearance in 2004.
Bob took his then 16-year-old son to Kapalua a week early so they could play together before the tournament. During one round an insect stung Bob’s finger, which swelled up to “the size of a golf club grip” and left him unable to play for the rest of the week.
Now Kevin Tway is making his debut coming off his first PGA Tour win at the Sanderson Farms Championship, and he’s dealing with health issues of his own.
He’s also leading the tournament after a 7-under 66 in Round 1.
“I played a few holes in the pro-am (Wednesday) and then on hole five it felt like I was walking on a water bed the whole hole,” Tway said. “So I withdrew from the pro-am, went to the doctor, had like an ear infection and sinus infection. Got some pills and feel a little better today, but still a little dizzy.”
Tway had seven birdies and no bogeys, taking advantage of calmer morning conditions before the wind really picked up in the afternoon. He’s also a strong fit on this course as the second-longest hitter on Tour this season, with extremely generous fairways and plenty of room to send it.
Still, he wasn’t expecting much after withdrawing from the pro-am due to illness.
“Felt bad but yeah, when you’re making a lot of birdies it makes everything better,” Tway said. “I was just trying to drink a lot of water. I didn’t think I was going to play that good, to be honest.”
Tway enters Friday’s second round with a one-shot lead over Gary Woodland, Justin Thomas and Dustin Johnson, who each shot 67.
Tway’s big opening round was even more surprising considering how difficult this course can be for first-timers – Daniel Chopra was the last player to win his Tournament of Champions debut back in 2008.
That doesn’t mean it can’t be done, and sick or not Tway is going to keep pushing forward Friday.
“I was going to try to play no matter what,” Tway said. “I can deal with a little bit of dizziness for sure. We’re in Hawaii and no cut so, I mean, I’m going to try as long as I can.”