While an odd collection of wannabes kicked off the Second Season at the Sarazen World Open, the usual PGA Tour suspects decompressed several time zones away at the $1 million Lincoln-Mercury Kapalua International on Maui.
For headliners Davis Love III and Fred Couples, the trip to Hawaii also served as a pit stop on the way to China and this week's World Cup, but they would have gone to Maui regardless. On the Tour, Kapalua is known as the biggest party of the year and as a great place to take the family, chill out after a long season and pick up some easy money.
This year tournament organizers went all out, chartering a DC-10 to fly a party of 100 from the Tour Championship the night after the final round in Tulsa. "I get on the plane and I'm sitting next to Davis Love, Peter Jacobsen, Tom Lehman and Ben Crenshaw," says Mark Rolling, the tournament's chairman and social director. "These guys are all on the Ryder Cup team, they've won five tournaments including the Masters, and combined they're 52 over par at Southern Hills. You should have seen these guys. They looked like they needed a week off."
It was better than that. Rolfing turned the week into more like a paid vacation. He threw a Halloween party—Couples came as Fred Flintstone—and Hootie and the Blowfish gave a private concert. "It's a week where you want to win, but if you don't you're still going to have a lot of fun," says Love. "I'll always come back."
So will Ben Crenshaw, who co-designed the Plantation course that hosted the last two rounds and who married his wife, Julie, at Kapalua 10 years ago. They celebrated by renewing their vows.
"This is the best tonic right before you go home," says Crenshaw. "You can really, really relax here."
Love, who won this event in 1992, and Couples, the back-to-back champion in 1993-94, didn't figure in this year's outcome. Neither did Crenshaw, the Masters winner, who was on his way to Kauai Sunday night for another Second Season event, the PGA Grand Slam. The Big Kahuna turned out to be Jim Furyk, whose loopy, high-speed swing has been described by fellow player David Feherty as an octopus falling out of a tree. As unconventional as it may appear, it works. Besides, who needs a great-looking swing when you're the best putter on Tour, as the 25-year-old Furyk was this year. Furyk has putted cross-handed since taking up the game.
"My dad started me cross-handed, and I never knew any other way," Furyk says. "If I had to putt conventionally, I'd be lost."
Furyk's maiden Tour victory came four weeks ago at the Las Vegas Invitational. That jumped him to 32nd on the money list, but he skipped the Texas Open and a chance to qualify for the $3 million Tour Championship because of commitments in Japan.
Kapalua was his sixth straight tournament, but it was on the way back to the U.S. "I was tired, but I decided that no matter what happened this week, I was going to have a good time," Furyk says. "I guess you could say I did."