Quick Thoughts on Kapalua/Hyundai T of C
January 8, 2015
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Kapalua is one of the most unique courses the Tour visits each year. The extreme landscape, including over 500 feet of elevation change, and resort set-up produce some pretty ridiculous stats. Players at Kapalua almost always produce the highest GIR and driving accuracy for the season, while the extremely slow and undulating greens are the 2nd hardest to putt on on Tour behind Pebble Beach. Kapalua is also the only course on Tour with more par 5s (4) than par 3s (3). These characteristics do combine to favor certain types of golfers.
1. Golfers with poor short games
Most golfers hit around 14-15 greens per round here versus only about 11 at the typical Tour course. Golfers who struggle to get it close from around the green find that part of their game less exposed at Kapalua. This week, Russell Henley and Angel Cabrera are among the guys most likely to benefit from avoiding scrambling shots. On the flip-side, Jason Day has a great short game that he’ll need less often this week.
2. Golfers who are great from the fairway
The pros regularly hit over 80% of Kapalua’s comically wide fairways, meaning they’re hitting from the fairway about 12 times a round, versus 8-9 at a typical Tour stop. Certain golfers struggle from the rough, while excelling from the fairway (relative to Tour average). Those guys won’t have to contend with the rough on most holes. Ryan Moore and Camilo Villegas stand out as guys who are much more successful from the fairway than from the rough. On the flip-side Hunter Mahan derives a large advantage over the field from how well he plays out of the rough. That will be negated a bit this week.
3. Great wedge players
Kapalua is always thought of as a bomber’s paradise, but the dirty secret is that it actually plays very short despite its 7400+ yard layout. Fully eight of the ten par 4s can set-up as wedge holes, leaving only five medium or long iron shots on par 3s or 4s. Hideki Matsuyama dominated with wedges or short irons last season and he’ll be able to feast in his first visit to Kapalua. Tim Clark is another great wedge player.