Kuchar finds ways to adapt to conditions

KAPALUA – Matt Ku-char went without a cap as he stepped to the Kapalua Plantation Course’s 10th tee Sunday.

“I lost my hat twice on the driving range and that was enough,” he said. “I don’t need to worry with the hat anymore.”

Even without that as a distraction, it took him a while to finally strike the ball for the first time.

“I got to the 10th tee and they announced my name,” said Kuchar, who began on the back nine of the wind-delayed Hyundai Tournament of Cham-pions. “I could barely hear, the wind was blowing so loud. Time to go and teed the ball up. I think I was ready to hit it, and a gust of wind came and I backed off. Went back to address the ball and another gust of wind. The second gust blew the golf ball off the tee and rolled probably four or five feet back from the tee.”

Then came a meeting with tournament officials. After a delay of about seven minutes, Kuchar finally hit his tee shot.

Kuchar was at even par through five holes before winds that reached 48 mph forced the cancellation of the round. The scores of the 22 players who finished at least one hole Sunday were wiped out.

At least Kuchar has had a chance to play some golf on Maui. Steve Stricker, Brandt Snedeker, Nick Watney and Bubba Watson haven’t taken a competitive swing.

Stricker and Snedeker jokingly high-fived each other Sunday at No. 1 when the horn ending play sounded.

Webb Simpson, Kuchar’s playing partner, said the toughest conditions were found on the greens.

“It’s hard to make putts,” Simpson said. “That’s the hardest thing, making putts. I mean, you don’t know if the gust is going to come or not.”

Waiting through stops and starts over the first three days of the tournament has meant a lot of down time for each golfer. The results from Friday were also wiped out, and no players started on Saturday.

“Fortunately there’s a lot of fun guys to hang out with in the locker room and good guys to spend time with, so the time passes,” said Kuchar, who is playing in the event for the fourth time. “But you do really feel for the tournament officials, for the title sponsor and the volunteers that have been working these really long hours and really not seeing any golf. It’s been a tough one.”

Kuchar and many of the 29 other players in the field had an ominous feeling about Sunday before heading out.

“I think most of us were anticipating not really playing today,” Kuchar said.

* Kyle Sakamoto is at ksakamoto@mauinews.com