"His iron shots are solid, right in the middle of the club face, and he seems to be about six to eight feet from the hole a lot," said former Hawaiian Open champ David Ishii, who played with Campbell for two rounds last week and watched the stocky Texan shoot 71-65. "It looks so easy, the way he plays."
Other rookies brought solid credentials to Honolulu. Luke Donald, a 24-year-old Englishman who graduated last year from North-western, is a former NCAA champ. Kenneth Staton, an All-America at Florida State, is a six-time winner on the Canadian tour. Jonathan Byrd, whom Slocum calls "an unbelievable talent," had three All-America seasons at Clemson, played on the 1999 U.S. Walker Cup team and won a Buy.com event in 2001. "Last year only 16 of the 56 new guys kept their cards," said Crane, "but I don't see how that's possible this year. There are too many good players."
If there's a problem for the new guys, it's recognizing that pro golf is a business—palm trees and luaus notwithstanding. To help them, the Tour gives every rookie a laptop computer and a handheld loaded with Tour software. In training sessions last week at the Sheraton Waikiki, the players learned how to communicate with Tour officials on the Internet, check their tee times, make commitments to future tournaments, find the nearest Starbucks and fill out expense reports. ("Miscellaneous," software trainer Rachel Graham explained to Bates. "That's where you put in what you pay for haircuts." Bates, giving Graham a baleful look from under his surfer like mane, said, "Haircuts, yeah") Back at the course, the players tended to business, but not the briefcase-and-spreadsheet kind. "We're entertainers," said Byrd. "We get dressed up and try to please the crowd with straight shots."
At the Sony the straightest shooters among the newcomers were Donald and Brad Elder, who tied for 13th, six shots behind winner Jerry Kelly, and won $75,000. Bates, Crane and Gangluff missed the cut by a stroke, Jones by two, Weekley by three and Slocum by four. None were too disappointed, though, and Weekley, who also has a bit of Forrest Gump in him, said, "Whatever happens, happens. It's already written in the stars."
Of course for Boo—who was in the tank and at the end of his rope not that long ago—it's a thrill just to see the stars.