Stars absent, Glover in trouble at PGA opener


AFP

KAPALUA, Hawaii — Three of the four reigning major champions will not play in this weekend’s season-opening U.S. PGA Tournament of Champions in Hawaii and another former major winner also might be forced out. Lucas Glover, the American who captured the 2009 U.S. Open at rain-swamped Bethpage Black, said on Thursday he injured his right knee after falling off a paddleboard last weekend in an accident and was only 50-50 to tee off Friday. He was not the first golfer hurt while having fun in Hawaii. Australia’s Geoff Ogilvy was prevented from seeking a third victory in a row at the event last year after cutting a finger on coral and missing the first month of the season. The 28-man event brings together winners from last year but some of the top names — including Tiger Woods, World No. 1 Luke Donald of England and 2011 major winners Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland and Charl Schwartzel of South Africa — are bypassing the US$5.6 million event. Keegan Bradley, the American who captured his first major title at the PGA Championship last August, will compete for the US$1.12 million top prize in the event, which has a Monday finish. “This is kind of the bonus for us players, to be able to come down here to Kapalua,” Bradley said. “It has been a great year but I’m ready to put that behind me and start over again this year.” American Jonathan Byrd is the defending champion. He enjoyed his son’s reaction to a poster with Byrd pumping his fist in victory last year. “He said, ‘Dad, I think you’re famous.’ I said, ‘At least for this week I am,’” Byrd said. “He seen my picture all over the place around the hotel and golf course and everywhere, so that has been fun. “Those are great memories to relive. It doesn’t happen that much for most of us mortals, so you want to enjoy that.” Byrd sees the event as a chance to jump-start his campaign before next week and the first full-field event of the year, especially knowing many of the big names will wait until late January to begin their seasons. “You’ve got a top-30 finish at the start of the year but it’s a good opportunity,” Byrd said.

“You’re going to get four rounds in. You know you’re going to knock some rust off. I’m trying to have a great week this week, but I’m trying to keep it simple. I’m not thinking about winning, I’m thinking about taking care of the things I need to take care of. “Hopefully that gets me in contention with nine holes to go.”