HONOLULU (AP) — Paradise is not always peaceful when it comes to the PGA Tour’s two-week swing through Hawaii.
Dating to 1999, the tour has started its new years with two tournaments on two islands in the Pacific where the palm trees sway, the humpback whales breach and the tropical air warms the soul, if not the face.
But it’s been rare to get through two weeks without some form of chaos over the last 10 years.
The latest involved Justin Thomas, who until this year had nothing but happy memories of the 50th state. He has won the Sentry Tournament of Champions twice. He shot 59 in the Sony Open in 2017 and went on to set the PGA Tour’s scoring record at 253 in a seven-shot victory.
He missed a 5-foot par putt on the fourth hole of the third round at Kapalua and, angry with himself, uttered a homophobic slur under his breath that was picked up by a boom mic on the green. Thomas apologized, owned it and offered no excuses. He apologized again on Sunday.
Six days later, Ralph Lauren said it was ending its sponsorship of a clothing deal he’d had as long as he’s been on tour.
“While we acknowledge that he has apologized and recognizes the severity of his words, he is a paid ambassador of our brand and his actions conflict with the inclusive culture that we strive to uphold,” the company said in a statement.
Other players had mishaps of a different variety.
STAY OUT OF THE WATER
Geoff Ogilvy was the two-time defending champion at Kapalua in 2011 when he planned to go surfing until the waves were only a rumor. So he went for a swim. He slipped on rock and tried to brace himself when his right hand hit a piece of coral and sliced open his right index fingers. He required 12 stitches and withdrew from the Hawaii swing.
He didn’t play for a month, until the Phoenix Open. Coming off two-win seasons for three straight years, he didn’t win again until 2014.
STAY OUT OF THE WATER, PART II
Lucas Glover arrived in Hawaii and got on a paddle board, just like always. He fell, not the first time. Only in 2012, his foot caught the edge of the board sending his body one direction and his right knee in the other. It turned out to be sprained knee ligaments. He iced it all week with hopes of playing, and he did — but not until the Florida swing.
Glover hasn’t been back to Kapalua since then.
THIS IS NOT A DRILL
Nothing was more jarring than Saturday morning at the Sony Open in 2018, when the push alert appeared on every mobile phone: “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.”
It wasn’t a drill, only a mistake.
Another push alert 38 minutes later indicated — no caps — it was a false alarm. Some were more frazzled than others. John Peterson sent out a tweet that he was in the bathtub with his family under mattresses. “I don’t even know what you do for a missile,” said Tom Hoge, who decided to keep watching a TCU-Oklahoma basketball game.
One day after a false alarm over a missile strike, there was a real strike.
Union workers for video and audio production at Golf Channel events walked out over stalled contract negotiations, leading to limited coverage of the final round. Golf Channel managed enough cameras to provide coverage of the last three holes, along with all six holes of the playoff. Of course, it went six holes.
One of Golf Channel’s on-course reporters manned a camera in the 16th tower.
A rules violation involving Patrick Reed followed him from the Bahamas to Australia to Hawaii last year.
Video showed him scraping away sand from behind his ball before playing a shot at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas. The next week at the Presidents Cup in Melbourne, the heckling was so bad his caddie got into it with a fan and was sat out for final match. It didn’t end three weeks later with a small crowd in the chill vibe of Maui.
Reed was lining up an 8-foot birdie on the third hole of a playoff at Kapalua when a man screamed, “CHEATER” right after he struck —and missed — his putt, leading to Thomas winning. Voices are louder when the crowd is thinner.
Reed says he didn’t hear it.
THE MYSTERY OF ROBERT ALLENBY
No week on Oahu was more bizarre than when Robert Allenby missed the cut in 2015 and headed to the Amuse Wine Bar for dinner with his caddie and a friend.
What happened after that is still a mystery, except that it was a bad night for Allenby. His saga generated enormous interest when he posted a photo of his scraped and bloodied face to Facebook. He first said he was beaten, robbed and thrown from the trunk of a car six miles away. He later said that information came from the homeless woman who helped him escape from a park a block away from the restaurant.
A man later pleaded guilty to charges of using Allenby’s credit card on $20,000 in purchases. Allenby still has no memory of about a three-hour window that night.