KAPALUA, Hawaii (AP) – The sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean beyond Kapalua’s lush landscape reassure the soul and can make this year’s first PGA Tour event feel like work and vacation.
Patrick Cantlay and Jon Rahm have had enough of the latter.
Rahm, the No. 1 player in the world, will have gone 83 days since he last struck a blow that counted when he started Thursday in the Sentry Tournament of Champions.
He shot 74 for missing the cut in the Andalucia Masters three weeks after the Ryder Cup and was so fried that he said, “This is the first time in my life that I do not want to see a golf club.” He did not play the rest of the year.
Cantlay won the last two events to win the FedEx Cup. He was named PGA Tour Player of the Year and was then ruthless as always in an American match at the Ryder Cup. His next competitive shot will be 102 days later.
Whether there will be rust at Kapalua is irrelevant. This was more about rest.
“There are tournaments all year round that you almost have to force yourself to take time off,” Cantlay said. “And I thought it was the perfect opportunity for me to get a few months and rest my body and rest my mind, and that way I can play the rest of this year just really fresh and excited to go out. and compete. “
What does a golf junkie do without golf? Nothing terribly exciting for Cantlay, except that he was quite happy with a book in hand, time in the gym and no doubt being entertained during a fishing trip in the Atlantic with Dustin Johnson.
Rahm’s years were just as hectic, bordering on chaotic.
Officially, his lone victory was his first major at the US Open in Torrey Pines. It was two weeks after his positive COVID-19 test knocked him out of the memorial after building a six-shot lead in the final round. And that was two months after he became a father.
But his fatigue goes back even further.
When golf returned from the pandemic-forced shutdown in June 2020, Rahm played 11 out of 15 weeks and won twice. He reached the finish line at the Masters in November and split the lead on 36 holes before fading. And then he kept working through the winter while switching to a new equipment company.
“I did not want to change club really should be an excuse,” Rahm said.
Not to worry. In the 18 events he played from January for the Tour Championship, the Spaniard finished just five times outside the top 10. One of them was his WD with six shots lead at the Memorial.
“So when that Ryder Cup was over, I was drained for the previous year and a half,” Rahm said. “And after I went to Spain and finished playing, I needed a break – not only for myself but also for my family. We all endured it and I just wanted the time to be a father and be husband and just be there for my wife and my son. “
Like Cantlay, Rahm faced no temptation to return earlier than he did. He was busy with diapers, not books, and loved every minute of it.
“I know I’m not going to regret it when I decide to spend more time with my family, and that was what the decision was based on,” he said. “And I could not be happier that I made that decision.”
The level of tension goes beyond the two freshest players in the 38-man field.
If ten years ago there were concerns that Kapalua was becoming obsolete and the only winning field lost star power, that is no longer the case.
Although the PGA Tour takes a six-week break, there is high energy on the rugged, western edge of Maui. The only qualified player who is not in Kapalua is Rory McIlroy, who will start his new year in Abu Dhabi in two weeks.
Bryson DeChambeau is playing his first official event since the Tour Championship – though he had two memorable outings in a televised match against Brooks Koepka and a 14th-place draw in the Bahamas.
Jordan Spieth is so excited to be back that he took it upon himself to think of Kapalua during the final round of the Texas Open in April, which he won to finish nearly four years without a win.
“I had to throw it out of my head because I had thought about it a few other times during previous events of the season where I had leads on Sunday,” he said.
Spieth at least snuck into the Bahamas for the Hero World Challenge after her fatherhood.
Three players come after victories. Talor Gooch won the last PGA Tour event of the year and was the last man to qualify. Viktor Hovland won the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas. The other is Phil Mickelson, whose last event was a victory in the Charles Schwab Cup Championship on the 50-and-older tour.
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