Paul Goydos once joked that he made U.S. PGA Tour history in 2007 by winning the Sony Open as the first player to beat a field that included a 5-foot boy (Tadd Fujikawa) and a 6-foot girl (Michelle Wie).
If Goydos wins at Waialae next month, it will be against a field that doesn't include either of Hawaii's most famous golfing teenagers.
Tournament director Ray Stosik said Wie, now a 19-year-old student at Stanford University, would not be playing the Sony Open for the second straight year. Wie was in Palm Desert, California practicing and getting ready for her next school term. Wie played her hometown U.S. PGA Tour event for four straight years, and twice shot 68 although she never made the cut.
Wie earned her U.S. LPGA Tour card at Q-school this month. She has competed against men every year since 2003, and said after Q-school that she would do it again.
"I always wanted to do it since I started golf," she said.
As for Fujikawa?
He qualified for the Sony Open in 2007 and tied for 20th, leading him to turn pro later that summer. He was given a sponsor's exemption this year, but missed the cut. Fujikawa won the Mid-Pacific Open in Hawaii this year, and he made the cut at a Japan Golf Tour event, his first as a pro on a recognized tour.
Stosik said Fujikawa would be at the Monday qualifier the week at the Sony Open, which will be from Jan. 15-18 at Turtle Bay.
OLYMPIC SUPPORT: Golf appears to be in much better shape to join the Olympic program for 2016 than when it tried earlier this decade for the 2008 games, mainly because of its unified support.
That included U.S. PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem, who was lukewarm to the idea six years ago.
So why the change of heart?
Finchem alluded to the "missing answer" to a question of how to quantify how golf in the Olympics would generate support around the world for the game to grow. He said a study was completed a year ago that evaluated financial resources from various governments.
"There's over 100 countries where government supports sport in those countries, but only sports that are in Olympic programs," he said. "So if golf is added to the Olympic program, those federations will immediately start giving financial support to help build the game. That's what turned us from looking at it just from a standpoint of what the competition meant to the overall mix in professional golf.
"We are persuaded that we need to grow golf around the globe," he said. "And this is a very positive step."
PRO V1 PLUS: Steve Stricker started and finished the year as a runner-up _ in a playoff at the season-opening Mercedes-Benz Championship at Kapalua, and by one shot at the Chevron World Challenge.
One difference _ besides the climate _ was the golf ball he played.
While some players have been testing the new Titleist ball, Stricker used the Pro V1 Plus during the World Challenge at Sherwood Country Club. He couldn't draw too many conclusions given the cool, wet conditions.
"It may be a touch firmer," he said. "It feels like I hit it a little flatter off the tee, which is good. But it didn't seem a whole lot different. My distances were still similar."
It was not known how many players will use the Pro V1 Plus at the Mercedes-Benz Championship at Kapalua, and how many will keep the prior generation of Pro V1, which Titleist says has specifications that fall outside any claims of the patents in dispute with Callaway.
WEIR OUTLOOK: Mike Weir of Canada will start the 2009 season with the Presidents Cup among his goals, but in much better shape than he was in two years ago _ not only in the International team standings, but between the ears.
Weir was obsessed with making the 2007 team, and rightfully so because it was held in Canada. This year, the event returns to U.S. soil at Harding Park in San Francisco.
"It's on the back burner," Weir said. "I want to do some things individually, and hopefully, that takes care of other things."
That wasn't the case the last time. Weir started the '07 season at 20th in the Presidents Cup standings, and he had gone nearly three years without winning on the U.S. PGA Tour, which only added to the burden.
"You hate to think it did affect me, but I was thinking about it all the time," he said. "I wasn't playing the greatest, I wasn't getting any younger and you knew it would not be held there (Canada) again, at least when I was playing. This time, with what I plan on doing next year, it will take care of itself."
STAT: The top 10 players on the U.S. PGA Tour's career money list have combined for over $410 million (290 million euros) in earnings.