KAPALUA, Hawaii — Paradise can leave a lasting impression.
Steve Stricker was just starting to pull himself out of a deep slump in 2006 when he was reminded by his daughter, Bobbi Maria, how long it had been since he last won on the PGA Tour. She was 8 at the time and won a tournament for juniors at their home club in Wisconsin, no more than three or six holes.
“She comes home all excited and says, ‘Daddy, I won, I won! We’re going to Hawaii,”’ Stricker once recalled.
He had to break the news to her.
Stricker was the one who had to win a tournament for them to go to Kapalua to start a new season, and he did that the following year.
As traditions go in golf, starting the year on the rugged coast of Maui is relatively new. The Tournament of Champions began in Las Vegas in 1953, moved to La Costa Resort north of San Diego in 1969 and stayed there 30 years until coming to Kapalua.
This was the 15th year the tour has started at Kapalua, and there has never been another year like this one. A tournament that was supposed to end on Monday didn’t start until Monday because of three days of powerful wind — one gust measuring 48 mph — that had the locals drawing comparisons with a 100-year storm.
About the only good that came out of such freak weather was that it took attention away, however briefly, from the PGA Tour winners who stayed home and missed out on the endless days — the top four players in the world ranking, for starters, led by Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods.
It’s not a new problem, but it’s still a problem. And it contributes to a future as cloudy as Molokai at sunrise.
Kapalua has a contract only through this year to host the tournament.