Byrd and Pettersson come out flying
Jonathan Byrd and Carl Pettersson didn’t miss a beat in the PGA Tour opener yesterday, both enjoying the views and surprisingly calm conditions in the Tournament of Champions at Kapalua, Hawaii, to share the lead at 7-under-par 66.
That wasn’t the case for others.
Kapalua was missing its two-time defending champion when Geoff Ogilvy had to withdraw with 12 stitches in his right finger, making him the first defending champ in 50 years to miss the winners-only event.
Stuart Appleby was missing his putter. It wasn’t in the bag when he showed up in the morning, and he sent caddie Scott Sajtinac to a nearby golf shop to get the closest he could find. With the price tag still glued to the shaft, Appleby opened with a 69.
Jim Furyk was missing a playing partner when Ogilvy withdrew, so he brought along Scott Carroll as a marker. The popular pro at Kapalua got the loudest ovation of anyone on the first tee.
Above all, the Plantation Course was missing its notorious wind, which allowed for a gentle start to the season.
“It’s quite an adjustment going out there with no wind,’’ Byrd said.
It was Byrd’s first tournament since he qualified for the Tournament of Champions by winning in Las Vegas with the best finish of the year, a hole-in-one in a three-man playoff. After making five birdies on the front nine, Byrd holed out another shot. This was only a wedge from 111 yards that caught the grain perfectly and rolled sideways about 4 feet and into the cup.
Ben Crane was a stroke behind the leaders. He played bogey-free in the overcast conditions with the sun trying to break through but never succeeding.
Furyk, one of only three players to have won at Kapalua still in the field, also got off to a quick start before he stalled and had to settle for a 5-under 68, leaving him tied with Bill Haas and Charley Hoffman.
Joining Appleby in the group at 69 was Anthony Kim, determined to plot his way through each round at each tournament, and doing a pretty good job of it except for the par-3 eighth. He chose a 4-iron, then changed his shot at the top of his swing and pulled it into the high weeds to take a double bogey.
“All of a sudden, I decided to try to make birdie — from 215 yards away,’’ Kim said. “Mental error. I committed to every shot I hit today except for that one.’’
European Tour — Branden Grace holed a 9-iron approach at the 18th hole to get within a shot of Brandon Pieters for the Africa Open lead after the partially completed first round in East London, South Africa.
Grace’s eagle lifted him to 6-under 67, with Pieters’s 66 holding up when play was halted with 24 players still on the course in gathering darkness at East London Golf Club.
Tiger Woods has one less endorsement deal, ending his 13-year relationship with Golf Digest magazine when the sides couldn’t agree on how many hours Woods should devote to the job.
Golf Digest never disclosed terms of the deal, although it was believed to be among the smallest financially for Woods — no more than $2 million a year. The value came from exposure, along with some content provided for Woods’s website.
The announcement comes two weeks after Gillette said it would not renew its contract, which expired at the end of 2010. That brings to five the number of endorsements Woods has lost since he was caught in extramarital affairs. The others are